ECONOMY

EU for standardized food package labels

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Labels on packaged goods sold in the EU should be standardized to make life simpler for consumers and industry, the EU executive proposed yesterday. Living up to its aim of cutting red tape in the European Union to help revive economic growth, the European Commission said there should be one set of labeling rules for food and consumer products sold across the 25-nation bloc. «We now have 25 member states and 25 different national laws governing how manufacturers have to label consumer products,» Commission industry spokesman Gregor Kreuzhuber told a daily news briefing. «It’s quite messy and burdensome for industry.» A common set of product-labeling rules could be in place by the end of 2006, he added. Kreuzhuber used the example of Spanish-made cheese containing olive oil which is labeled and weighed differently across the bloc, creating confusion among consumers and costing industry extra money. In some states, the olive oil is included in the total weight of the cheese but in other countries, the olive oil is labeled separately and must be subtracted from the total weight of the cheese, said Kreuzhuber. The Commission will consult with consumers, manufacturers and retailers until March 15. This is also in line with the new Commission’s aim of working closer with industry on drafts. The Commission initiative is part of a general push to make Europe the world’s most competitive and dynamic economy by 2010. The EU executive believes that cutting red tape for business is one of the ways of reaching the target.