European parliament makes new proposals to improve farm to fork strategy

EUROPE – The European Parliament has released a report that outlines areas for improving Europe’s “Farm to Fork Strategy,” originally proposed by the EU Commission in May 2020. 

In the report, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) put an emphasis on greener food production and made proposals for binding targets for cutting back on pesticides, fertilizers, and antimicrobials in farming. 

The Parliament also called for healthier food environments, urging the EU to regulate the marketing and advertising to children of food high in fat, sugar, and salt.  

MEPs also want food prices to reflect the “true” costs of production – also known as “externalities” – including those upon the environment and society. 

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In addition, MEPs backed an EU-wide simplified front-of-pack nutritional label – for example, using a color-code – to help consumers choose healthier foods.  

The EU lawmakers want such labeling schemes to be mandatory and stressed that any exemptions should be science-based. 

A tougher stance on greenwashing 

There was also an agreement that greenwashing “has no place on food” and that regulation is needed to weed out the market of misleading green claims. 

“Greenwashing” is a common marketing ploy designed to make products seem more sustainable than they are. 

 In this way, companies use greenwashing to appeal to customers who care about the environment without having to make meaningful changes in their business practices. 

In the UK, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) is seeking to discourage the practice and recently warned businesses they have until the New Year to make sure their environmental claims are compliant with the law. 

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The move by the European Union also shows that regulators across the European continent are keen to protect their consumers from misleading green claims by companies. 

Farmer interests recognized 

Farmer interests also came into focus at the farm to fork strategy review with MEPs insisting that farmers must earn a fair share of the profit from sustainably produced food. 

The food industry in Europe led by the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) and FoodDrinkEurope has commended EU parliament for its ambition to revamp Europe’s common food policy 

However, some F&B stakeholders have expressed concerns that the additional regulatory requirements presented by the report may pose extra burdens and costs on Europe’s food SMEs – by setting maximum limits on some nutrient levels, for instance.   

The EU Parliament’s bid to reshape the Farm to Fork strategy follows its recent call for stricter regulations on “natural” claims for food products.  

MEPs are continuing to advocate for the development of a clear “natural” definition and stringent legislation to regulate the use of this term for food products. 

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