What's in wine? Campaigners want ingredients on the bottle

What's in wine? Campaigners want ingredients on the bottle

EU winemakers will need to reveal their ingredients from December, but can use QR codes stuck to the bottle
EU winemakers will need to reveal their ingredients from December, but can use QR codes stuck to the bottle. Photo: Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP
Source: AFP

PAY ATTENTION: Enjoy reading our stories? Join YEN.com.gh's Telegram channel for more!

European wines are finally being forced to reveal their ingredients to customers, but only on a website -- not on the bottle. Environmental campaigners are unimpressed.

Wine can contain a wide array of additives to control taste, strength and appearance: sulfur, sugar, egg white, dried fish bladders, enzymes from a pig or cow pancreas, and a range of chemical compounds.

While most of the food and drink sector has been forced to print ingredients and nutritional information on packaging for decades, the alcohol sector has long had a special exemption.

In 2017, the European Commission concluded there was no "objective grounds" for this exception, and new rules -- which come into force on December 8 -- require wines to reveal their contents.

But there is a twist. The wine industry was allowed to come up with their own method of doing so -- and it decided to give vineyards the option of using QR codes that link to a website, thus keeping the ingredients off the bottles.

Read also

Plastic pollution: treaty talks get into the nitty-gritty

An activist group, the Transparency for Organic World Association (TOWA), said this is unworkable.

PAY ATTENTION: Click “See First” under the “Following” tab to see YEN.com.gh News on your News Feed!

"Can you really imagine getting out your smartphone in the supermarket and scanning several QR codes to compare the additives in wines, and remembering them all to make your choice?" said Olivier Paul-Morandini of TOWA.

The wine industry claims that it cannot be treated like other foodstuffs.

"Wine does not follow a recipe. The grape evolves in function of the sun, of climatic conditions... the ingredients are not the same from one harvest to another," said Ignacio Sanchez Recarte, of the Comite Europeen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV)
, which represents the industry in Brussels.

The CEEV said digital labelling is the only realistic way to get all the EU's winemakers onboard (there were 2.2 million in 2020, according to Eurostat). It also means the ingredients are automatically translated into all EU languages.

Read also

German brewery has high hops for powdered beer

"The Commission understood the need to provide a level of flexibility that will allow companies to communicate this information in a way that will not disrupt the way we trade," said Recarte.

The CEEV also filed a complaint this month to the European Commission over Irish plans to put health warnings on alcoholic drinks.

'List the consequences'

For TOWA, e-labels show a lack of commitment to the greening of agriculture which the EU claims is a priority.

Organic and natural winemakers say that if a wine needs a QR code rather than a label, it is probably best avoided.

"An organic winemaker who puts very few additional things into their wine can make a label for the bottle, while a conventional winemaker would need a dictionary, so clearly that's why a QR code is necessary," said Julien Guillot, a well-known natural winemaker in Burgundy.

QR codes and e-labels are typical of a system that still greatly benefits conventional farmers using pesticides and chemical fertilisers, who receive the overwhelming majority of the EU Common Agricultural Policy subsidies, according to TOWA.

Read also

OpenAI chief seeks to calm fears on job losses

"We don't need just a list of ingredients. We should have a list of all the consequences of conventional farming and how much they cost," said Paul-Morandini.

"The pollution of soil, water, health and environment all has a price that is paid by consumers and society."

New feature: Сheck out news that is picked for YOU ➡️ click on “Recommended for you” and enjoy!

Source: AFP

AFP avatar

AFP AFP text, photo, graphic, audio or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. AFP news material may not be stored in whole or in part in a computer or otherwise except for personal and non-commercial use. AFP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions in any AFP news material or in transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages whatsoever. As a newswire service, AFP does not obtain releases from subjects, individuals, groups or entities contained in its photographs, videos, graphics or quoted in its texts. Further, no clearance is obtained from the owners of any trademarks or copyrighted materials whose marks and materials are included in AFP material. Therefore you will be solely responsible for obtaining any and all necessary releases from whatever individuals and/or entities necessary for any uses of AFP material.

Online view pixel