EU holds back from enforcing calorie labels on wine
European Union officials have given the wine industry one year to come up with a self-regulatory scheme that improves the amount of nutrition and ingredients labelling information given to drinkers
There’s no reason why wine producers should not provide more comprehensive information on ingredients and nutrition, says a new report published by the European Commission.
But, Commission officials announced this week that they wouldn’t impose tighter labelling rules on wine, beer and spirits – for now.
Instead, producers will be given a chance to take more ‘voluntary’ action.
Nutrition and ingredients labelling remain controversial issues in the wine world, although there is evidence of growing support for calorie counts.
Alcoholic drinks above 1.2% abv have a special exemption from EU food labelling rules that means producers don’t have to list nutritional information, such as calories, or ingredients – unless the ingredient is a proven allergen, like sulphites.
Producers have one year to develop a ‘self-regulatory proposal’ that improves the amount of information available to consumers, the European Commission said.
European commissioner for health and food safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, said, ‘This report supports the right of people in the European Union to be fully informed about what they drink.
‘It does not identify any objective grounds justifying the absence of the list of ingredients and nutrition information on alcoholic beverages.’
Some producers and retailers support calorie labelling on wines, in particular. In the UK, which has often led the way on nutrition labelling in general and remains part of the EU for at least two more years, the Sainsbury’s and Waitrose supermarkets have supported calorie counts on bottles in recent years.
Others support providing information online rather than on the label.
With Brexit in mind, it is worth pointing out that the UK government has joined calls for better calorie labelling in alcohol in recent years – although it has also preferred a self-regulatory approach.
‘Now the challenge is on us, and we embrace the responsibility,’ said Ignacio Sánchez Recarte, secretary general of European winemaker body CEEV.