EU to ban selling goceries by numbers.
Shoppers will be banned from buying bread rolls or eggs priced by the dozen under new food labelling regulations proposed by the European parliament. Under the draft legislation, to come into force as early as next year, the sale of groceries using the simple measurement of numbers will be replaced by an EU-wide system based on weight.
It would mean an end to packaging descriptions such as eggs by the dozen, four-packs of apples, six bread rolls or boxes of 12 fish fingers.
The legislation could even see special unit-based promotional packs offering ‘eight chocolate bars for the price of six’ banned, according to a report in trade magazine, The Grocer.
It comes after MEPs last week voted against an amendment to the regulations that would allow individual states to nominate products that could be sold by number.
Individual countries are currently allowed to specify exemptions, but the proposed Food Labelling Regulations make no such provisions.
The changes would cost the food and retail industries millons of pounds as items would have to be individually weighed to ensure the accuracy of the label.
The Grocer said food industry sources had described the move as “bonkers” and “absolute madness”. Its editor, Adam Leyland, said the EU had “created a multi-headed monster”.
The Food Standards Agency indicated it opposed the change and that the regulation had yet to be finalised.
However, Gordon Polson, director of the Federation of Bakers, said: “The problem is now the exemption has been omitted from the legislation, it will be very difficult to get it put back in.”
Andrew Opie, food director of the British Retail Consortium, which represents 90 per cent of UK shops, said: “This is a bad proposal – we need to help consumers, not confuse them.”