The blue and green ticks on food labels are to be replaced by a smart phone app, allowing consumers to access personalised information about products they are thinking of buying, health minister Edith Schippers has told MPs.
Food firms will have until this time next year to remove the ‘ik kies bewust’ labels from their packaging, the minister said. The tick system was introduced 10 years ago but has never been a major success.
Earlier this year the consumers association Consumentenbond said they should be scrapped after research showed 75% of consumers do not know what the ticks mean or understand the difference between the blue and green circles.
Unhealthy products with high salt or sugar content, such as crisps and cola, can qualify for the label if they are ‘better’ than other products in the same category. This is misleading and suggests some food is healthier than it actually is, the organisation said.
In addition, companies have to pay between €1,800 and €90,000 to place the symbol on their packaging. This disadvantages companies which don’t want to pay, the Consumentenbond said.
Last year the Consumentenbond urged the food safety authority NVWA to get tough on misleading claims made by food manufacturers. Claims on packaging such as ‘rich in fibre’, ‘low fat’ and ‘rich in vitamin C’ mislead shoppers into believing products are healthier than similar alternatives, the organisation said.
The government-based Consumers Authority published a report in January in which it identified 12 different food trade labels, ranging from fair trade to low fat. There are several different labelling systems for eggs alone.
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