Mediterranean countries are standing together to prevent the EU from labelling products with health warnings. Some fear that consumers will be put off from buying products including Halloumi.
If introduced, the packages will use colour-coded nutrition labels, using the colours red, green and orange. Red indicates that the product is high in fat or saturated fat or sugars or salt. Amber means medium content and green means low content.
A vote for or against labelling will go before the European Commission in April but some groups, including the Cyprus Cheesemakers Association, are adamantly against it.
The Agriculture Ministers of Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain recently met to discuss the issue.
Reports state that those in favour of the labelling system say that individuals can still make their own decision whether or not to purchase a product. They also pointed out that by reducing the fat, sugar or salt content, a red label could be changed to green.
Those against the proposed system argue that that there is no reference to other potentially harmful ingredients such as preservatives and artificial sweeteners, nor does it make note of beneficial ingredients such as protein and calcium.
The Cyprus Cheesemakers Association point out that fresh, full-fat milk will be marked red but diet soft drinks given a green label. They also said studies had shown that up to 70% of consumers paid serious attention to this type of labelling before making a purchase.