Key nutritional information, such as fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugar, salt and energy content should be included on the back of packaging, MEPs agreed this afternoon.

The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee amended draft EU legislation with the aim of ensuring labels do not mislead and that they provide information that helps consumers make informed choices about the food they eat.

The draft legislation, voted at the second reading by the committee, would change existing rules on the information that is compulsory on all labels – such as name, list of ingredients, ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ dates.

To the list of nutritional information proposed, MEPs added artificial trans-fats – currently part of a Department of Health drive to be eradicated by the end of 2011.

The required information would have to be expressed per 100g or per 100ml, as well as per portion, and could also be accompanied by guideline daily amounts.

MEPs also want the inclusion of the ‘date of first freezing’ on the packaging of frozen unprocessed meat, poultry and fish.

The committee approved the aforementioned proposals with 57 votes in favour, four against and one abstention, “giving rapporteur Renate Sommer (EPP, DE) a strong mandate to enter into negotiations with, to achieve a second-reading agreement with Council ahead of Parliament’s plenary vote in July”, said the European Parliament.

Once the legislation is adopted, food businesses would have three years to adapt to the rules. They would also have two additional years to apply the rules on the nutritional declaration.