The European Parliament (EP) has been forced to quell fears that bakery businesses would be banned from denoting the number of products on multi-packs, after a proposal for the continuation of selling by number was rejected by MEPs in a recent vote.

Politicans voted against the inclusion of a provision in the Food Information Regulation (FIR) directive, which would allow bakers in the EU selling wrapped products by number, such as rolls, muffins and crumpets, to continue doing so.

MEP Renate Sommer, who is steering the legislation through the EP, has denied reports that the effect of current proposals on food labelling would, for example, ban eggs being sold by the dozen. The EP said reports that claimed the new rules would not allow both the weight and quantity to be displayed were also wrong. "Labels will still be able to indicate the number of food items in a pack, whether of eggs, bread rolls or fish fingers," read the statement. However, weight would still have to appear on-pack, which could incur costs for suppliers.

The legislative procedure is ongoing and may not end until late 2011. Despite the vote, no quick agreement is expected in Council making it likely that the draft legislation would return to Parliament for a second reading. A Food Standards Agency spokesperson said its position was in favour of the provision to continue selling by number.

Proposals for ’traffic light’ values on food packaging were also thrown out, but MEPs backed plans for food labels that feature mandatory nutritional information, accompanied by guideline daily amounts.