Political strategy for food labelling joint statement of the scientific advisory boards on consumer and food policy and on agricultural policy at the Federal Ministry of Food : agriculture and consumer protection September 2011
BAUHUS, J.; BECKER, T.; CHRISTEN, O.; DABBERT, S.; EBERLE, U.; GAULY, M.; HANSEN, U.; HEISSENHUBER, A.; HESS, J.; ISERMEYER, F.; JUNGERMANN, H.; KIRSCHKE, D.; LATACZ-LOHMANN, U.; LEONHAEUSER, I. -U.; MICKLITZ, Hans-Wolfgang ; OEHLER, A.; OTTE, A.; PIORKOWSKY, M. -B.; PLOEGER, A.; QAIM, M.; REISCH, Lucia A.; SCHMITZ, P. M.; SPILLER, A.; STADLER, A.; STRUENCK, C.; SUNDRUM, A.; WEINGARTEN, P.
Title: Political strategy for food labelling joint statement of the scientific advisory boards on consumer and food policy and on agricultural policy at the Federal Ministry of Food : agriculture and consumer protection September 2011
Author: BAUHUS, J.; BECKER, T.; CHRISTEN, O.; DABBERT, S.; EBERLE, U.; GAULY, M.; HANSEN, U.; HEISSENHUBER, A.; HESS, J.; ISERMEYER, F.; JUNGERMANN, H.; KIRSCHKE, D.; LATACZ-LOHMANN, U.; LEONHAEUSER, I. -U.; MICKLITZ, Hans-Wolfgang ; OEHLER, A.; OTTE, A.; PIORKOWSKY, M. -B.; PLOEGER, A.; QAIM, M.; REISCH, Lucia A.; SCHMITZ, P. M.; SPILLER, A.; STADLER, A.; STRUENCK, C.; SUNDRUM, A.; WEINGARTEN, P.
Publisher: W Kohlhammer Gmbh, I A Jochen Krauss
Citation: Berichte über Landwirtschaft, 2012, Vol. 90, No. 1, pp. 35-69
Political Strategy for Food Labelling Joint Statement of the Scientific Advisory Boards on Consumer and Food Policy and on Agricultural Policy at the Federal Minisity of Food. Agriculture and Consumer Protection September 2011 Consumers in modern consumer societies are confronted with an abundance of largely similar products, especially in the food sector. They are usually completely unable to process the detailed, product-related information these products contain. In this context labels are an important information tool for consumers. They can bundle information and are thus used more often and at an earlier point in time than other information. They can play a key role when it come to trust-related properties of products or services, as consumers do not have a reliable alternative source of this information. To contribute to consumers being able to make an informed decision, however, labels must be easy to understand, based on sound verified criteria and familiar to consumers. In addition to this, they must not be allowed to get lost in a flood of similar and sometimes ambiguous labels. With regard to the supplier side it is essential that labels provide a range of economic incentives to continually increase quality. So far these, challenges have not been sufficiently met by the agri-food industry and agri-food policy in Europe and Germany. From the point of view of the Scientific Advisory Boards, what is required is a long-term, consistent food labelling strategy that is preferably coordinated throughout the EU and that is based on an integrated view of environmental, food, consumer and agricultural policy and that integrates food labelling in all its complexity, including the context of other instruments. For important trust-related properties (health, environmental impact, social and animal welfare), which are becoming increasingly important for consumers, the Scientific Advisory Boards recommend an optional "umbrella" label showing the 4 above- mentioned labelling areas separately using a multi-level evaluation system. The umbrella label is intended to ensure easy recognition. The multi-level approach allows for differentiated evaluation and provides quality incentives for the suppliers. The focus (aggregation) on important labelling areas ensures a high amount of clarity, especially when terms are simultaneously protected by a ban on (misleading) associations. An overarching concept of this kind is only possible as a state-imposed or state-supported procedure. The Scientific Advisory Boards favour the latter but would like interest groups to be involved too. The animal welfare requirements for livestock offer especially good prerequisites for the testing of a multi-level label as described above. Binary characteristics, such as ingredients, origin, the use of genetic engineering or nanotechnology, are not suitable for an umbrella label concept. For such cases, the recommendation provides a decision grid for classifying the respective labelling area. For specific terms such as "GM-free" or "from mountain farms", the Scientific Advisory Boards recommend maintaining or introducing reserved terms that may only be used when legally defined conditions are met. At the same time, it should also be ensured in this area that terms are protected through a ban on (misleading) allusions. For private-sector labels, logos, references to testing or monitoring systems or specific advertising statements on the process quality, just as for state-imposed or state-supported labels, information should be made available at the point of sale or on the product packaging to enable the consumer to find further details on the system. It should be obligatory to state (e.g. on the internet) by whom the label is awarded and what the award criteria and the control process comprise. It is also necessary to ensure the independence of the inspectors and the control of the label providers (e.g. through accreditation), and to document this transparently. The observance or breach of legal minimum standards should generally not be communicated through a label.
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