Denmark to Roll Out New State-Run Climate Label for Food

Denmark will establish a state-controlled climate label in order to help residents purchase more environmentally-friendly foods.

According to a report by the Danish Council on Climate change, the average Dane can reduce the environmental impact of their diet by 31-45 percent if they follow Denmark’s dietary guidelines. These guidelines are based on the EAT-Lancet diet—a diet designed with human and planetary health in mind—and they will inform the creation of the country’s new climate label.

In a press release, Rasmus Prehn, the Danish Minister of Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries, notes that consumers can often access information around nutrition contents, animal welfare practices, and organic certification. But it is more difficult to determine whether foods are climate friendly. For this reason, Prehn states, “Denmark must now have a state-controlled climate label.”

The Ministry believes that the development of a single label is important to avoid the confusion that arises when consumers find similar, competing labels on products. Prehn says Denmark’s ecolabel “must be one unified brand that consumers can trust.”

If effective, the new climate label will help Denmark achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)—responsible consumption and production.

Laurie Beyranevand, the Director for the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School, believes that the label has potential, but oversight of the label will be key.

Beyranevand agrees with Prehn that the benefit of a state-controlled label is consistency and clarity. “If we consider some other private certifications by way of comparison,” Beyranevand tells Food Tank, “people find the many animal welfare certifications difficult to navigate and trust placing an onus on animal welfare advocates to develop tools and guides that can serve to inform consumers.

But Beyranevand warns that the label will only be effective if it is accompanied by strong implementation, enforcement, and monitoring. “If the standards the label requires are not actually advancing sustainability or other desired environmental outcomes, then the label ultimately won’t accomplish much,” she tells Food Tank.

Denmark’s Minister of Food is currently establishing a working group to create the label. The working group is made up of research groups, government officials, and representatives from leading Danish supermarket brands.

This climate label project will receive US$1.3 million (DKK9m) from the Danish government to achieve their goals. The working group will release their proposal by the end of the year.

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Photo courtesy of Svend Nielsen, Unsplash

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