Ensd Europe: 'Commission must clarify what is ‘natural’, say MEPs'
Thirty-one members of the European Parliament have written to the European Commission asking to clearly define the meaning of ‘natural’ for food products.
Signed by MEPs from the Greens, the Nordic Left, the S&D group, the letter to health and food safety commission Stella Kyriakides Safety warns about a ‘considerable gap’ in food labelling legislation that could put at risk the aims of the Farm-to-Fork Strategy.
At present, labeling requirements are covered by different pieces of law and ‘natural’ is described without consistency in different EU legislation from REACH to rules on flavourings and nutrition.
The latter in particular could be “misleading”, the signatories of the letter say, as it focuses on the origin of the ingredients and the composition of products, but may not allow consumers to make “conscious and healthier choices”.
The MEPs say that products labelled as ‘natural’ should be free from GMOs and synthetic substances, and be 100% biodegradable.
"We go to the supermarket and we see packaging that has a label sometimes made with recycled paper, other times with the design of a leaf, and this leads the consumer to associate the product with something unquestionably good for the health, with a low ecological footprint,” said Portuguese Green MEP Francisco Guerreiro, who launched the initiative.
“On top of that, and worse, brands inscribe the word 'natural' on the label, but in the absence of regulations defining what a natural product is, it is obvious that they will abuse the designation,” he added.
“The Farm to Fork strategy represents a great opportunity to finally create an EU sustainable labelling framework up to EU consumers expectations and current environmental challenges,” Floriana Cimmarusti, secretary general of consumer group Safe Food Advocacy Europe, told ENDS.
“However, we are going to lose this chance if the EU does not develop more stringent labelling requirements, presenting a definition of ‘natural’ for EU food products," she added.