La protection des consommateurs Européens: il y a encore du travail, mais pour qui ?

Un sondage Eurobaromètre viens juste de sortir concernant la vigilance et la protection des consommateurs.

Le résultat générale de cette étude est qu’environ un citoyens sur deux est mal informé sur ses droits de consommateur. C’est le point clef : si la protection des consommateurs n’est pas optimum, ce n’ait pas à défaut de réglementations, mais parce que beaucoup de citoyens n’arrivent pas à identifier les abus, ne font pas forcément valoir leur droits, …

Que peux faire l’Europe pour aider les consommateurs à mieux se défendre ? Il y a deux aspect complémentaires. D’abord, il faut clarifier les informations et s’assurer qu’elles sont données clairement. Par exemple, l’année dernière, le parlement a voté pour renforcer les informations présentes sur les emballages d’aliments. D’autre part, il faut éduquer le consommateur, pour qu’il soit vigilant et qu’il engage les actions appropriées si besoin.

Cela nous met face à une question qui revient régulièrement sous une forme ou un autre: est-ce à l’Union Européenne de nous apprendre à vérifier les dates de péremption ? Ou bien est-ce que l’Europe doit se contenter d’agrandir la taille des caractères sur les emballages ?

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Follow up: Crack an egg

Following on the egg controversy, here are two short notes saying why it is plainly not true [1] and [2]. There is also a great post, very clear and well informed by Nosemonkey here: [3] And finally the text adopted by the Parliament (pdf, 85 pages) [4].

As I was telling previously, the provision to indicate the weight doesn’t ban any sell by number

Everybody knows that bananas are sold by weight, but you still count the number of bananas your buying – everybody is happy with that… Well, it should be easy to do the same for eggs (though, be careful not to mix up bananas and eggs in the kitchen)


Scramble Scramble Scramble !

Let’s talk about eggs ! Yes, eggs… What the connections with Europe ? Well, as it turns out, the regulation on food labeling is not only a threat to Nutella but also to the eggs by the dozen.

As one can read in these articles : [1], [2], [3] and [4] ; Europe could «ban selling eggs by the dozen».

First, let me precise that a quick research on the Euro Parliament website didn’t lead to any text specific on the topics on eggs by the dozen… If you know of any, please, let me know.

Other than that, what I can see is just that the food labeling regulation specify that number is just not enough to indicate the quantity of a product… Obviously, it’s impossible – well, technically it is, but that would be messy – to sell egg by the kilogram (well, Tomatoes are sold by weight and nobody got a problem with that) . The natural unit to sell eggs is “one egg“, so I don’t think Europe would ever want to change that. Adding a line on the egg package saying “12 eggs, 534 milligrams” would be, I believe completely compliant with the regulation and maintain the tradition of selling eggs in full.

Really, all this story looks like a bit of an over reaction to me.


Not My Mom – Follow up on food labeling

A quick follow up on the Save the Nutella post :

This text by MEP Sommer explains the issues on food labeling and why the traffic light system has been discarded. Read It ! It’s a short and clear explanation.


Not My Mum – Hands off my ‘Tartine’

Remember when I wrote that Europe was not our Mom and therefore is not supposed to tell us what to eat or not ; it just has to make sure we are properly informed…

A plan to improve this information was put before the MEPs this week – and was rejected. The proposed plan would have introduced color coded pies indicating the level of fat, salt, sugar, … and the healthiness of those. Aliments with too much fat or salt would also faced restrictions on advertising.

The problem with that scheme : It’s killing Nutella (among others) ! Nutella, by essence, got more than ten percent of fat – a level high above the healthy limit – and would face restriction and an red filled colored information pie that would stamp it as unhealthy . Of course, eating Nutella by the spoons would not be the healthiest thing (but it is so good), but people don’t always eat bare Nutella, bread or waffles level down the unhealthiness of the chocolate delicacy.

This is a tricky issue ; one would argue that labeling products as healthy or not is a form of telling us what to eat – Although, just giving the amount of fat or sugar is not necessary a clear indication for citizens… The debate will go on.

Read more here, there and there.

Thanks to @zanlaura who brought the Nutella issue to my attention.


Thrombine, seconde tranche

English Version

Il y a quelques mois, j’écrivais au sujet de la Commission Européenne qui avait autorisée l’usage de thrombine pour produire de la viande agglomérée et, sur l’argument que l’Union n’est pas notre Mère, je concluais que cette décision était valide, avec cependant certaines réserves sur les modalités de mise sur le marchés de ce genre de produit.

Aujourd’hui, le Parlement Européen viens de voter contre l’usage de la thrombine[1,2]. Alors, qui a raison ?

Et bien pour une fois, tout le monde… La commission est dans son rôle lorsqu’elle a validé la thrombine, puisque cette décision se base sur les conclusion de l’Autorité Européenne de Sécurité Alimentaire qui concerne les risques sanitaires – apparemment inexistant, selon l’AESA.

Le Parlement Européen est également dans son rôle, puisqu’une de ses préocupations est précisément ce que je mentionnais précédement : le consommateur doit être suffisament informé ; et également,, le fait d’autoriser cette sorte de viande n’est pas compatible avec les objectifs d’aider les éleveurs à produire de la viande de meilleure qualité.

En tant que représentant des citoyens, les eurodéputés ont joués leurs rôles, tout comme l’a fait la Commission dans sa décision.

Ce jeu de ping-pong d’une autorisation par une institution, suivit d’un  par une autre est en fait un signe que ces institutions fonctionnent bien. Si seulement toutes les décisions dans l’Union pouvai suivre ce chemin, qui est, je pense, un cas d’école pour expliquer comment les législations Européennes prennent (ou devraient prendre) forme entr la Commission et le Parlement.


Thrombin, slice 2

Version en Français

A few months ago, I wrote about the decision of the European Commission to authorize the use of thrombin to produce repacked meat and arguing that the EU is not our Mom I concluded that the decision was valid, with some reserves however on how to put those products on the market.

Now, The European Parliament just voted against thrombin[1,2]. So, who is right ?

Well, for once, everybody is right… The Commission was in its role when deciding that thrombin was OK, since it did so based only on the conclusions of the European Food Safety Authority regarding health risks – which as it appears are not present, according to EFSA .

And the Parliament is right, since one of its concern is precisely what I mentioned earlier : sufficient information has to be given to the consumer ; and also that authorizing such meat is not compatible with the objectives of helping cattle farmers to produce better quality meat.

As representative of the citizen, the MEPs were paying their role, as was the Commission was in its decision.

This ping-pong game where a product is first authorized by an institution before being  rejected by another is actually a sign that those institutions work well. I wish every decision in the Union could follow this path which, I believe, is a textbook example to explain how European legislation are shaped up between the Commission and the Parliament.