EurActiv - Letters to the Editor


Regarding ‘Food industry wins battle on ‘traffic light’ labels‘:

CIAA’s [Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of Europe] €1-billion campaign to promote the GDA [guideline daily allowance] labelling system was clearly a key element in its political strategy to combat other, stricter labelling options, which it feared would damage sales of unhealthy food, such as the ‘traffic light’ system.

The €1-billion figure was quoted as CIAA’s own estimate in an European Voice article about EU food labelling regulation. The bottom line is CIAA would have never invested a single penny in a GDA scheme if the European Commission had not decided in 2006 to review the food labelling regulation.

CIAA seems to be very nervous about being referred to as a lobby group. Last week, CIAA’s head of communication, Lisa McCooey, called CEO’s offices to angrily complain about our report on the food labelling lobby battle. During this phone call, she claimed that ‘CIAA is not a lobby organisation’. This is a remarkable statement. From its own website, it is obvious that CIAA is a lobby organisation: its newsletters provide ample details of CIAA’s lobbying of Commission staff, member-state representatives and MEPs, not least on the issue of food labelling.

She also claimed ‘CIAA has never worked with Fleishman Hillard’, the Brussels-based lobby consultancy. Just a few months ago, Fleishman Hillard organised a ‘Bite Size Lunch Debate’ on food labelling in the Brussels Renaissance Hotel on behalf of CIAA, including a high-level speaker from DG SANCO.

It is high time for CIAA to come out of the closet and register in the Commission’s lobby transparency register, which it has boycotted for the last two years.

Nina Holland

Corporate Europe Observatory

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  1. “Lobbying” is as much a dirty word to Brussels-based organisations representing industry as the description ‘activists’ is to environmental and health NGOs.

    If I remember well, CIAA and similar organisations are touchy about public references to ‘lobbying’ because the Belgian law gives TVA exemption to those with primarily a scientific purpose.

    Lisa McCooey is simply doing her job in protecting her confederation’s legal position. The ‘EU representation” part of CIAA’s activities would be less effective were it not for the larger investment made by the confederation and it’s members in researching and developing the information needed to neutralise some of the more outrageous, frugal-with-the-truth claims of certain NGOs.

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