Whether you are a craft baker or a plant producer, the Commission’s forthcoming review of EU food labelling regulations, due to be published later this year, will affect the way you do business. There is clearly a need to simplify the rules and the Commission’s review will look to streamline the legislation. We also hope it will look at ways of reducing some of the unnecessary clutter on packs while limiting any further ’mushrooming’ in the information demands placed on food and drink labelling.

These were some of the key messages we put across at a recent workshop in Brussels, hosted with our colleagues from the British Retail Consortium, where we were able to exchange views with Commission officials on the forthcoming review. A key issue raised was the industry’s concerns that extending allergen information and ’best before’ dates to loose foods, such as unwrapped loaves or cakes, would cause real headaches for companies of all sizes and would be prohibitively expensive for the country’s smallest firms, such as specialist craft producers. One speaker reckoned the microbusinesses selling through the UK’s 500 farmers’ markets would have to invest E1m in labelling guns alone to help them meet such a requirement!

The workshop also highlighted practical ways of reducing the burden on labels through the removal of duplicate information, such as multiple ’with sweeteners’ declarations. Hopefully, if the industry’s thoughts are taken on board, we should end up with rules to create simpler labels that work better for consumers.