Traffic light labelling discussed in Germany

Reformulation and extended nutrition labeling are a main topic in the public discourse about a balanced diet in Germany, in which the German Dairy Industry Association (MIV) is participating. The dairy industry supports the nutrition strategy of the Federal Government, notes MIV in its latest Milch-Politik Report (Dairy policy report).

In December 2018 the National Reduction and Innovation Strategy for sugar, fats and salt in finished products was set in motion in Germany. It aims to help promote a healthy lifestyle and reduce the overweight and obese, especially among adolescents.

In agreement with the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the Max Rubner Institute, the MIV published an industry contribution in December 2018, including a portion concerning sugar reduction in yogurt.

In the meantime the BMEL has submitted a process agreement, which is specified in the target value, whereby sweetened dairy products for children are to achieve a 15% median reduction in total sugar content by 2025.

The MIV wants to provide, among other things, a model for understandable and comparable food labeling for processed and packaged food, taking into account the European Union legal situation.

This voluntary, extended nutritional labeling is intended to facilitate the healthy choices for consumers. Therefore, German consumers are being asked which of four selected models (Keyhole, Nutriscore, BLL, and MRI models) is understandable and helpful for them.

Most approaches (not the BLL model) assess the various foods as part of a highly complex diet based on a few criteria. This leads to a disadvantage for nutrient-dense foods such as cheese and butter.

According to the MIV, a colour-coded, evaluative packaging label is and remains a (too) simple model to properly assess the variety and complexity of the food.

It is also questionable whether these aids actually make people healthier and leaner. The evidence for this is missing so far, states the MIV report.

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