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European Parliament: More Honesty in Advertising

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

Regarding the vote in the European Parliament on the report on health-related advertising of food, MEP Hiltrud Breyer (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) declared on 16 May 2006: “Today’s vote is a milestone for consumer and health protection in Europe. The Parliament changed the vote it cast on the first reading and has finally returned to the side of the consumer. This change in direction is a genuine success.” (Picture: Hiltrud Breyer)


It is not a matter of advertising prohibitions but of harmonised minimum standards for marketing. A survey showed that 70 % of consumers trust manufacturers’ information on health. “This regulation is key legislation, not only for more transparency in consumer protection but also for more health protection,” says Frau Breyer. The regulation is a major contribution to health protection. In Germany alone, the consequential costs arising from nutrition amount to 71 billion Euros.


 The industry can no longer mislead consumers with false promises like “Crisps with calcium and magnesium, good for your bones!”; “Chocolate bars with vitamin E keep you fit - at school as well!” In future, the packaging can only carry health-related advertising statements if they can be scientifically verified by the manufacturer and are approved by the EU Commission or the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).


Excessively fat, sweet or salty products can no longer be passed off to consumers under the mantle of health and wellness. Misleading food advertising is now no longer permissible throughout Europe. Cornflakes containing 30 % sugar, sweet chocolate bars, products like jelly babies, and pro-biotic yoghurt drinks can no longer be advertised as “helps concentration”, “good for your bones” or “with the best ingredients”. Today, this scandalous eyewash on the part of food producers has been rejected once and for all. If one of the critical nutrients, fat, sugar or salt, exceeds a threshold that is still to be defined, food products can only be advertised with statements of nutritional value (“contains calcium”) provided a warning about the critical nutrient is given equal prominence on the label (“contains a high amount of sugar”).


Brand names such as “Slimfast” have now been incorporated in the proposed law, since brand names are a part of marketing and should be subject to the same regulations as product advertising. This is particularly the case when the health promise is there in the title. The absurd idea of advertising alcoholic drinks like wine and beer with health-related statements has similarly been rejected. In future all that will be permitted is information on reduced content of alcohol and calories. Frau Breyer, the committed MEP, is delighted: “With this decision by the European Parliament, consumer protection in Europe has finally been given new impetus.”


Hiltrud Breyer
8 G 265, Rue Wiertz
B - 1047 Brussels
Tel.: 0032 2 284 5287
Fax:  0032 2 284 9287



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