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German government rejects CO2 labeling of food

by Katrin Muhl (comments: 0)

A person pours oat milk into a cup
The Swedish company Oatly had won over 50,000 signatures for its petition on CO2 labelling in Germany, thus achieving the quorum for a public consultation of the Petitions Committee. © Oatly

Recently, the Petitions Committee of the German parliament dealt with the petition by oat milk specialist Oatly. Oatly had had the CO2 footprint of its products determined and demanded that all food products in Germany should show this value. The German government saw no need for this for several reasons.

At the end of last year, 57,000 people had signed the petition initiated by Oatly, thus ensuring that the Petitions Committee of the German parliament had to deal with their concerns in a public session: the greenhouse gases emitted by the production process were to be mandatory labelled on all food sold in Germany.

Tobias Goj, Managing Director of the oat drink producer Oatly, emphasized in the meeting that agriculture and food production are "responsible for 25 percent of all global emissions". He said that binding CO2 labeling was needed so that consumers could better inform themselves about the climate costs of food. The Scientific Advisory Board for Agricultural Policy, Nutrition and Consumer Health Protection also spoke out in favor of this in an expert report. The growing number of companies that voluntarily disclose the CO2 footprint of their products also shows that this is also possible for complex products, Goj said in a report by the Bundestag.

"Our company considers it extremely difficult to show the carbon footprint of every product," said Uwe Feiler (CDU/CSU), Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). He added that compiling the relevant data was "not so easy" for companies.

The State Secretary argued that additional bureaucracy should not be a burden, especially for small and medium-sized companies, according to the parliament's statement. He also referred to the many existing labels, such as organic, animal welfare and nutriscore labels, as well as the labelling of regional products.

The important thing with any label was that the consumer could "easily and correctly" recognize "what he was buying". Another label could rather contribute to confusion. However, his ministry wants to check whether a label for CO2 emissions factors could be "part of a more comprehensive sustainability system".


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