The statement in the midday briefing on Tuesday from Commission Health spokesperson Nina Papadoulaki came in response to growing fears from German bakers that new food labelling rules from Brussels would render German bread “unhealthy” due to its salt content.
"Fears are totally unfounded that the Commission would want to introduce a warning, leave alone a traffic-light system, which would lead to a red light for German bread because of a too high salt level," said Papadoulaki.
"The aim is to provide consumers with better information on food so that they can take informed choices," she added.
At the centre of the debate are new rules from Brussels regarding nutritional information for food labels. Bakers that display a claim saying a food product is healthy, such as 'high in fibre', will have to ensure the nutritional content is justified.
But bakers are totally free to make no health claim, in which case, when no such claim is displayed there is “of course, no limitation on the salt level," clarified Papadoulaki.
The rule under discussion was adopted in 2006 but talks are ongoing in the EU-27 bloc to decide how the claims will enter the market, and crucially, the setting of agreed levels for nutrients such as salt.
Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) newspaper earlier this week relayed concerns from German bakers that their wholegrain bread would be a product designated as bad for the health by Brussels, due to its salt content and that consumers would be indirectly urged to buy packed toast bread because they might perceive it as healthier.
According to FAZ, to show consumers what saltless bread would taste like, German bakers are planning a ‘Day of the European Commission's Bread’.
Seeking to further appease and reassure the German bakers with their salt-encrusted pretzels Papadoulaki said in her statement that the commission, the EU's executive arm, was confident the “final solution will satisfy the concerns of European bakers in general and German bakers...and in particular German bread will be as popular in the future as it is today.”
The commission is looking to complete the proposal for agreed levels on nutrients by spring, in order to present the new proposals to the European parliament prior to the elections in May this year.