“Insufficient understanding”: Key players suspend Evolved Nutrition Label involvement amid concerns over portion sizes

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21 Nov 2018 --- After two years of working together on a project aimed at creating traffic light nutrition labels to help EU consumers better understand what is in their food, five major companies have abandoned trials. Coca-Cola, Mondelez, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever have collaborated on the Evolved Nutrition Label (ENL) since March 2017, in a bid to develop a color-coded nutrition label on their products’ packages in the EU, but have now decided to shelve work. 

The Evolved Nutrition Label Initiative aims to put in place a robust nutrition labeling scheme that helps consumers make balanced and mindful choices. However, the companies have decided to suspend ENL trials for food because a lack of EU-defined portion sizes has led to insufficient understanding and support of the proposed scheme.

There have been concerns over ENL’s efficacy and potentially misleading color codes. One example is how Nutella, a high-fat, high-sugar product, had no “red light” under the proposed ENL logo. 

Trials of interpretative color-coded labeling for beverages will continue, which already follows the established, voluntary UK and Ireland “traffic light” scheme. All five
companies continue to call for the establishment of a broadly supported EU-wide front-of-pack interpretative labeling scheme and have expressed willingness to support this process.

At the time of the launch of the collaborative efforts, a statement from the consortium described how prominent on-pack nutrition labeling can play an important role in informing consumers on the levels of nutrients and the overall energy content of what they eat and drink, thus empowering them to make healthier choices and eat and drink mindfully.

This color-coded interpretative labeling scheme builds on the existing Reference Intake scheme, familiar to 500 million consumers in the EU, and reflects the nutrient content per actual portion consumed.

The ENL scheme is the result of a broad consultation with stakeholders at EU and national levels. The ensuing dialogue has provided valuable insights on the role of interpretative nutrition labeling and the companies are particularly pleased that the EU
Commission has taken the initiative to facilitate a process to exchange views and learnings on the different labeling schemes currently being used in anticipation of its report to be published in the coming months, according to an ENL statement issued yesterday. 

“At the same time, the ENL companies acknowledge that the lack of EU-defined portion sizes has led to insufficient understanding and support of the proposed scheme. In this context, and in the absence of legally defined portion sizes, the companies have decided to suspend ENL trials for food,” says the statement. 

“Trials of interpretative color-coded labeling for beverages will continue. As beverages are not consumed in portions smaller than 100ml, the debate on reflecting smaller portion sizes in labeling doesn’t apply.”

Chocolate giant Mars had already pulled out of the initiative earlier this year, claiming that ENL “lacked credibility.” 

The companies – The Coca-Cola Company, Mondelez, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever – continue to advocate for harmonization of interpretative labeling at EU level and call on the European Commission and member states to take the necessary steps.

They will continue to actively contribute to the EU-led process and work with the rest of the food and drink industry to share experiences and feedback with national and EU stakeholders, adds the ENL. 

“The ENL companies repeat their call on the European Commission to set portion sizes for food and beverages. Alongside reformulation and innovation, smaller portion sizes based on credible portions play a key role to support healthier consumer choices,” continues the statement. 

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

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