Thank God it’s Friday! Quick news from the food world (Week 39)

Here’s my selection of article for the week:

– WHO Study Measures Global Burden of Listeriaby James Andrews on foodsafetynews.com: in 2010, Listeria monocytogenes was estimated to infect 23,150 people worldwide. It killed 5,463 of them, or 23.6 percent, according to a new study by European researchers in the World Health Organization (WHO) published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

EU

– Incoming EU food safety commissioner wants deal over meat labelling, by Carmen Paun, in Brussels, on globalmeatnews.com: the European Commission should review the issue of country-of-origin labelling (COOL) for meat in processed food and assess who would pay for such a measure, the health and food safety commissioner-designate Vytenis Andriukaitis said today.

– Current rules on GM crops ‘create conflict’, says European Commissioner-designate, by Caroline Scott-Thomas+; the European Commissioner-elect for health and food safety has said he intends to review rules on GM crop cultivation and broker compromise on animal cloning, among other top-priority topics.

HONG KONG

– Hong Kong to toughen cooking oil Regulation, by Li Jing: the proposed changes to the laws would include provisions that substandard or recycled cooking oil must not be used as an ingredient for oil manufactured in Hong Kong. Importers of edible oils will also need to get certificates issued by the place of origin to prove their  products are up to standard. At the same time, food manufacturers and restaurants will be required to pass on their used cooking oil to a designated recycler.

ITALY

– Papaya liar? Italy issues €250,000 fine over ‘distorted’ health claimsby Shane Starling+, on foodanddrinkeurope.com: an Italian botanical supplements manufacturer has been given 30 days to pay a €250,000 fine after local authorities busted it for grossly exaggerated and unsubstantiated web-based health claims around immunity, diabetes, HIV, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

UK

– Commission opens infraction proceedings against UK’s ‘traffic light’ label, by Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn+ , on dairyreporter.com: the European Commission has formally opened infraction proceedings against the UK for its ‘traffic light’ food labelling system, giving the state two months to defend itself against business complaints.

 

Traffic light colour coding in UK

The British Department of Health, after 3 month UK-wide consultation, has invited mass market retailers to adopt this type of nutrition labeling in the first half of 2013.

http://www.dh.gov.uk/health/2012/10/nutrition-labelling/

Here you can find the system description, directly from the UK National Health Service (NHS) website:

“Traffic light colour coding

Some front of pack nutrition labels use red, amber and green (traffic light) colour coding.

Traffic light colour coding, as shown in the image above, tells you at a glance if the food has high, medium or low amounts of fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt.

  • red means high
  • amber means medium
  • green means low

In short, the more green lights, the healthier the choice.

If you buy a food that has all or mostly green lights, you know straight away that it’s a healthier choice. An amber light means neither high nor low, so you can eat foods with all or mostly amber lights most of the time. But a red light means the food is high in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugars and these are the foods we should cut down on. Try to eat these foods less often and in small amounts.” 

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/food-labelling.aspx#Tr

It is important to stress that this will be a hybrid system, because the traffic lights shall be accompanied by the %GDA (Guideline daily amount), as shown in the image above. Anyway there are many discussions about using this labeling system.

Maybe it is more immediate for consumers, but not always the red light means that a food is not healthy: it also depends on the mode of consumption of the food, the amounts and the individual nutritional needs.

Up to now, many types of nutrition labeling have co-existed in UK. The Government’s attempt is to unify the nutrition labeling, in order to avoid further confusion among consumers.

Here you can find some samples of companies which were using different types of traffic light label, directly from Food Standard Agency website:

http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/tladopters0110.pdf