Today the editor of The Grocer, Adam Leyland, has written a column explaining why he wrote the story and why it still stands. He accuses the German MEP Renate Sommer of being disingenuous and misleading in her attempts to rebut the story. Here is an extract from Mr Leyland's column...
Bureaucrats in Brussels are a sensitive bunch.
Over the years, they have been soundly ridiculed for their sometimes misguided and petty regulations. Perhaps that explains why they don’t take criticism well.
So when my magazine The Grocer last week revealed worrying proposals to introduce expensive and pointless new regulations, the Euro mandarins were quick to dismiss our story as mischievous and misleading Euro-bashing.
We explained that the new regulations would mean, for example, that cartons of eggs or packs of buns and other grocery items – traditionally sold by number – would have to be individually weighed.In an attempt to quell the growing row, Renate Sommer, the German MEP in charge of steering the new food legislation through the European Parliament, denied it
unequivocally, adding: ‘There will be no changes to selling foods by number.’
The implication was that my magazine had made up the story. Yet nothing could be further from the truth and we believe Sommer’s belated ‘clarification’ is, in many ways, disingenuous and misleading.
As things stand, exemptions for certain foodstuffs traditionally sold by number are still affected by the proposed legislation. And even where packages do give numbers of items, price would still be determined by weight.
What we took the trouble to do was to actually read the EU’s 75-page draft
proposals on food labelling, which comes complete with 175 pages of amendments.
The draft regulations aim to standardise food packaging across Europe and include such contentious issues as country of origin and complex nutritional advice.
They are labyrinthine in their complexity and have been under negotiation since 2004.
What we found by studying the small print was a sensational story. In a vote in the European Parliament last month, MEPs rejected amendments to the draft legislation to exclude a range of groceries and wrapped goods which we have traditionally bought by number.
They include eggs, croissants, muffins, cereal biscuits, packed fruit and vegetables, vanilla pods, food supplement pills and vitamins. Under the proposed new law, these would have to specify the weight on the label.
Behind the scenes, industry lobbyists and enlightened MEPs have begun a campaign to ensure the EU officials are fully aware of the implications.
If this legislation is not amended when it reaches the EU Council later this year, it will mean pointless red tape and unnecessary costs to food producers who already work on tight margins – without any benefit to the consumer. We think that’s worth fighting.
That is why our investigation was never the mischievous, Europhobic scare story that some critics have suggested. And why we are proud – whatever the EC says – to have brought it to public attention.
Read the whole article HERE. This is not written by a tabloid journalist or a partisan blogger. It's written by the editor of The Grocer. Think on that.
So perhaps I should now ask for an apology from those who wanted one from me. I might as well whistle in the wind.