Retail sector pushes for self regulation
towards healthier lifestyles within the context of the EU Platform
for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health.
In Brussels today, 13 major retail firms including Auchan, Carrefour, Marks & Spencer and Tesco will attend a EuroCommerce meeting to demonstrate their 'engagement' with the platform's aims and to launch the organisation's Nutrition Manifesto. "Retailers have a unique position to provide the widest choice of products to consumers and they develop in-store communication tools to inform their customers while they shop," said Xavier R. Durieu, secretary general of EuroCommerce. Like food manufacturers, retailers are confident that industry-led initiatives can meet consumer demand if fundamental education is in place to help consumers understand the basics of a healthy lifestyle. And as at the CIAA's annual meeting, the overarching message is that regulation alone cannot change eating habits. For example, a policy conference chaired by Robert Madelin, director general of DG Sanco, will take place this afternoon, during which EuroCommerce will present its recommendation on the nutrition labelling of own-brand products. The objective of the recommendation is to step up retailers' efforts for clear nutrition labelling, through the implementation of guideline daily amounts on products. "The Commission intends to put forward proposals for the revision of the nutrition labelling legislation this year," said Madelin. "Given the current focus on nutrition particularly in relation to obesity, it will be important to provide a sound framework for the provision of nutrition information and to consider the perspectives of all actors. For this reason, these debates are extremely important." The purpose of the Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, initiated by Commissioner Markos Kyprianou nearly two years ago, is to create a forum for action at the European level. The platform has largely been seen by the food industry as a step in the right direction. The idea is to work under the leadership of the European Commission and to provide an example, which others will choose to follow across Europe, of coordinated but autonomous action by different parts of society to deal with the many aspects of the problem. The Platform meets every two months for plenary meetings so as to monitor overall progress and discuss issues. Established in 1993, EuroCommerce represents the retail, wholesale and international trade sectors in Europe. Its membership includes commerce federations in 29 countries, European and national associations representing specific commerce sectors and individual companies.