Denmark Wants to Add Environmental Impact to Food Labels

Consumers will be able to make fully-educated purchases in the supermarket

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Denmark has an ambitious goal. The Scandinavian country wants to become so green that it will reach carbon emission neutrality no later than 2050.

To give Danish consumers the information they need to make a fully-informed purchase decision, the government is planning to introduce food labels that, in addition to the nutritional value, will also show the product’s environmental and climate impact.

While Denmark already ranks among the top 20 countries in the World Climate Change Performance Index, it recently introduced 38 new initiatives that include labeling food for environmental and climate impact.

The project is being spearheaded by the Danish Agriculture and Food Council and is part of 38 recently introduced initiatives to help the country reach its green goals. "The council would like to oblige food manufacturers and supermarkets to rate their products' impact on the climate and environment, in order to help shoppers make more [environmentally] educated decisions," Morten Høyer, the Council’s director, told CNN.

In Europe, food production is responsible for 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, with the production of meat representing the highest contributor. Other environmental factors to consider are pesticide use, transportation, and packaging. All of these elements would have to be calculated in the new food label for it to be accurate.

Høyer said this would not be an easy task. "Things like these are difficult to calculate, so we have a worthy challenge ahead of us before we can say with certainty that we have the right solution for a climate label,” he said.

The proposal for the labels includes collaboration with supermarkets on its implementation. Lars Christian Lilleholt, Denmark's Minister for the Environment, told The Local, “I will enter into dialogue with the retail sector, butchers and other food producers to open a discussion about how we can implement this in a way that would enable the climate labelling to work.”

Lilleholt believes that Danes will use the knowledge they glean from the proposed food labels to reduce their own carbon footprints and improve the world's climate. That is a very lofty goal, but Denmark seems to be taking the right steps to achieve a greener future.

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