The European Parliament (EP) has been forced to quell fears that food businesses would be banned from denoting the number of products on-pack, 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.

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 spokesperson for the Food Standards Agency said it was too early to say what the implications could be, but that the Agency was in favour of the provision to continue selling by number.

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 claim 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 eggs, bread rolls or fish fingers,” read the statement.

The legislative procedure is on-going and may not end until late 2011.

Proposals for ‘traffic light’ values on food packaging were thrown out but MEPs backed plans for food labels that feature mandatory nutritional information, accompanied by guideline daily amounts, defeating the UK Food Standards Agency’s wish to see traffic light labelling adopted universally.

The EP also voted in favour of extending country of origin labelling to all meat, poultry, dairy and other single-ingredient products, and to meat, poultry and fish when used as an ingredient in processed food.