MEPs have rejected the inclusion of a provision in the Food Information Regulation (FIR) directive, which would allow bakers in the EU selling wrapped products by number to continue doing so, following a vote at the European Parliament yesterday (16 June).

“Under the existing EU directive there was a provision for member states to decide to sell some products by number, and the UK has legislation that allows wrapped bakery products to be sold by number,” explained Federation of Bakers (FoB) director Gordon Polson.

“That provision was unfortunately omitted when they transferred other directives across into the new FIR and we’ve been lobbying to make sure the provision from the existing directive is transferred into this new regulation.”

A spokesperson for the FoB said today: “The process has still some way to go. It is expected to be the end of the year before an agreement is reached on the Food Information proposal.”

She said the FoB would now be concentrating its efforts on trying to get acceptance within the European Council to introduce an amendment on sales by number: “Polson will also be speaking to UK civil servants in the Department for Business, Innocation & Skills and DEFRA to get them to put more support into lobbying in Europe.” She added: “This is a disappointment but it’s not the end of the process.”

The provision covers all food products sold by numbers, not just bakery products, Polson said that as far as bakery products were concerned, it only applied to wrapped products such as rolls, muffins and crumpets, so it wouldn’t affect high-street bakers.

Speaking to British Baker before the vote took place, Polson said that even if the European Parliament did not vote in favour this time, it was not the “last chance saloon” as it was the equivalent of a first reading in Parliament. “The legislation has a long way to go,” he said. “We have also been lobbying the Commission to make sure that they know the situation.”

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. Once the legislation is adopted, bakers would have three years to adapt to the rules. Smaller operators, with fewer than 100 employees and an annual turnover under €5 million, would have five years to comply.