Bakery products will not be allowed to include on-pack claims such as ’no added salt’ and ’x% less...’ following a vote by the European Parliament, banning the European Commission’s proposed labelling amendment.

The ban was carried by only 15 votes more than the 378 needed to secure it (393), and has disappointed food manufacturers. A spokesperson for the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said it did not expect the Commission to issue a new legislative proposal, and the FDF would not be appealing the decision.

Martin Turton, manager of the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery (BCCC) group, said: "BCCC members are very disappointed with the outcome of the EU vote. Members spend large amounts of time and money on reformulation efforts, and should have the opportunity to communicate changes to recipes to consumers, to help them make better choices."

Alice Cadman, head of strategic projects at United Biscuits (UK), a member of the FDF, said: "United Biscuits has invested heavily in its reformulation programme over recent years and, until now, has communicated the benefits of this work to consumers, enabling them to make a positive choice towards products that have been reformulated. Examples include McVitie’s Digestives, which have been reduced in saturated fat by 80%, and McVitie’s Hobnobs, which have been reduced in saturated fat by 75%. So it is hard to understand why the ability to tell consumers about positive changes has been taken away. Far from confusing consumers, the ’x% less’ claim makes it easier for them to identify products that have been reformulated."

Barbara Gallani, director of food safety and science at the FDF, said the European Parlia-ment had underestimated the consumers’ actual ability to read food labels and their desire to make informed decisions.