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EU wine trade body publishes calorie labelling plan

A trade body representing thousands of European Union winemakers has proposed providing more nutritional information on wines, but health professionals said plans do not go far enough.

EU wine producers, alongside beer and spirits makers, will make more nutritional and ingredients information available to consumers, said the CEEV trade body at a press conference in Brussels late Monday afternoon (12 March).

That involves calorie information about wines, which would be presented as ‘energy’ amounts, said the CEEV, which represents 23 national wine bodies, plus individual wine companies and non-EU Swiss and Ukraine wine associations.

Senior doctors in the UK criticised the move for not going far enough, and particularly for allowing wineries to publish information online with QR code links, or something similar, on bottle labels.

‘This information will be provided on-label or off-label,’ said Ignacio Sánchez Recarte, secretary general of the CEEV. ‘It will up to producers to decide which support use.’

The CEEV statement comes after the European Commission said in March 2017 that the alcoholic drinks industry had 12 months to devise ways to improve nutrition and ingredients information for consumers.

Alcoholic drinks above 1.2% abv have a special exemption from EU food labelling rules.

Some companies already provide calorie information online, including Penfolds owner Treasury Wine Estates, plus Pernod Ricard, Diageo and Accolade Wines.

Under CEEV proposals released this week, a symbol ‘E’ would be used to denote ‘energy’ and this would be followed by calorie amounts based on expected portion size.

Examples published by the CEEV were:

  • Brut sparkling wine: E= 301kJ/72kcal (per 100ml)
  • For a liqueur wine 20% abv: E= 670kJ/160kcal
  • For a liqueur wine 20% abv: E= 670kJ/160kcal 60ml: E= 402kJ/96kcal This [75cl] bottle
    contains 12,5 servings

Dr Sánchez Recarte told Decanter.com, ‘The information will be provided on the basis of 100ml of wine, and when relevant, the producer may decide to complement this information with the energy information on the basis of a portion (amount equivalent to 10g ethanol).’

The UK’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) accused the alcoholic drinks industry of ‘hiding, not providing’ nutritional information by allowing producers to simply put energy amounts online.

It called on the European Commission, and the UK government, to demand tougher action.

The CEEV said that it was also committed to providing consistent ingredient information in-line with EU food rules.

However, it highlighted that ingredients defined as processing aids do not need to be publicly flagged in the EU; raising the prospect of further debate.

The CEEV said that the international wine body, OIV, which maintains a rulebook on winemaking methods, was currently looking at what could be defined as a processing aid.

The CEEV added that small and medium-sized enterprises made up around 90% of the EU wine industry and that consumer needs would have to be balanced against their resources to implement policy.

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