A vote by MEPs to block an important piece of legislation on the labelling, composition and advertising of processed cereal-based food and baby food is disappointing, say Conservative MEPs.
A number of British MEPs including Labour and Greens voted for the block, a move which could now delay important clarity to food legislation.
The proposed regulation would have allowed baby foods to provide 30% of their energy from sugar, prompting fears from some MEPs about the impact upon childhood obesity.
Conservative MEPs acknowledge that these levels seem high, but point out that the Commission is committed to reviewing the levels following an opinion on the composition of these foods from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), due out later this year.
There is an urgent need to clarify and simplify this legislation to achieve improved consistency of how the law is interpreted across the EU. Today's result will only serve to delay these much-needed changes.
ECR Group coordinator on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, Julie Girling said: "Whilst I understand some of the concerns, these will not be dealt with simply by blocking the legislation.
"Unfortunately today's vote by a coalition of Labour, Lib Dem and Green MEPs will undermine the consistent application of EU rules, as a revised proposal is now unlikely to be published before the summer.
"Indeed, following today's objection, the existing rules will continue to apply, and these contain exactly the same requirements on sugars as those proposed in the new regulation.
"It is important to stress that the 30% figure is a maximum level, not the prescribed level, and that the sugar content of cereal-based food and baby food is generally much lower.
"These foods are the only foods which are formulated specifically to limit the amount of salt, sugar and saturated fats, and ensure the correct amount of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals for the relevant age group.
"The decision to object to the regulation is questionable, given that the Commission has stated it will revisit the final compositional levels once EFSA publishes its opinion later this year"