Society

Do you speak Eurofood?

Article published on Jan. 23, 2006
Article published on Jan. 23, 2006
Brussels has announced a truly European food policy. They call it ‘From Farm to Fork’. And of course they wish you ‘bon appétit!’

A survey carried out by the European Commission in 2002 revealed that 90% of Europeans expect the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to guarantee the production of healthy and reliable food. This coincides with small revolution in the world of consumption and production of food.

Europeans are calling for an increase in biodiversity, a return of farmland to forestry and incentives for organic farming. Sustainability and traceability, which chime with animal welfare and consumer safety, have become the guiding principles of food. Europeans want less intensive farming and a stop to agriculture depleting the earth.

Labels

To get this information to the consumer, a string of labels with increasingly unpronounceable acronyms now adorn our supermarket shelves. Amongst them labels such as (AOP) protected appellation of origin, IGP (exclusive to the region of production) and STG (guaranteed traditional speciality), which protect recognised food products from rival substitutes of suspect origin and enable consumers to make informed decisions. Do they want a real Babybel or a fake Gratin Dauphinoise?

Organically farmed products are not to be outdone. In March 2000 they gained their own little green logo. In order to be classified as ‘organic’, at least 95% of a product’s ingredients must have been created organically and satisfy an official inspection. This creates the challenge of how to feed a growing number of hippy-chic consumers thirsty for natural produce and averse to GM products. And these too must be clearly identified. There is no question of taking risks. Rules and regulations have taken the market in hand and all genetically modified (GM) crops included in food produce should be specifically labelled as such. The consumer must be given a choice .

Eurofood

Furthermore, the customer must be informed of the levels of salt, sugar and sweeteners, for those monitoring diabetes, cholesterol or blood pressure. The European Commission anticipates specified labelling for mineral water, baby food, food supplements and dietary food designed for athletes, pregnant women and those with specific allergies. And If you want to understand one of these labels, it might be wise to have a good grounding in chemistry, nutrition, agriculture and the law.