§ Mr. Boswell
To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his policy towards nutrition labelling, in the light of the recent report of the Coronary Prevention Group entitled "European Community An Analysis of the United Kingdom Government's Position on Nutrition Labelling".
§ Mr. Donald Thompson
Officials from my Department have met representatives of the CPG and their legal advisers. My officials explained that it is the EC food labelling directive (79/112) rather than the treaty of Rome which is directly relevant in this case. The ability of a member state to act unilaterally on grounds of public health is restricted to non-harmonised food labelling provisions. What may alone be required to appear on a food label is harmonised and this does not include nutrition information. Whilst therefore it is possible for the United Kingdom to set up a system of voluntary nutrition labelling, it is not open to it under Community law to make the giving of fat or nutrition information on labels a statutory requirement without the consent of the other member states. Thus we continue to seek with the European Commission a solution to our proposals for fat labelling regulations within the context of Community law. I believe that the Coronary Prevention Group now understands better the legal position held by the Government on this issue. This position also results from discussions with the legal services of the European Commission.