No EU ban on buying 'dozen' eggs

image captionGrocers will still be able to sell eggs by the dozen in the EU

The EU is not preparing to ban the sale of groceries by quantity, such as "a dozen" eggs, the Euro MP steering new food labelling legislation says.

Renate Sommer MEP was responding to suggestions that shoppers might have to change the habits of a lifetime if all food had to be sold by weight.

"There will be no changes to selling foods by number," she said on Tuesday.

"Selling eggs by the dozen... will not be banned," she said. No final agreement is expected before mid-2011.

Earlier this month the European Parliament rejected an amendment which said that in some cases EU member states could leave the weight off the label, if the produce was traditionally sold by number.

The amendment said: "In the case of foodstuffs normally sold by number, member states need not require indication of the net quantity provided that the number of items can be clearly seen and easily counted from the outside or, if not, is indicated on the labelling".

Egg rules to be kept

Ms Sommer said the new rules would allow both the weight and quantity to be indicated, so the number of items in a box of eggs or bag of bread rolls would be clear.

Existing EU rules on egg sizes would be unaffected, she said. There are four official sizes of eggs - very large (73g and over); large (63-73g); medium (53-63g) and small (under 53g).

Earlier, UK officials said they would defend food producers' right to label groceries by number.

EU countries currently have exemptions allowing some pre-packed foods to be labelled by number alone.

The new legislation will now be considered by EU government ministers before a second reading in the parliament.

British Labour MEP Glenis Willmott, closely involved in the negotiations, said "there is absolutely nothing in the new rules... that would prevent producers from selling their products by quantity - so to say that it won't be possible to sell eggs by the dozen is plain wrong".

MEPs rejected "traffic light" colour coding in nutritional labelling - a system already used by some supermarkets - in favour of "Guideline Daily Amounts" (GDAs).

Many food producers had lobbied against "traffic lights", fearing that they would stigmatise certain foods.

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