The Food and Drink Federation has called on the European Commission to simplify labelling laws to make packs more user-friendly for consumers.

The call was made at a meeting between retailers, manufacturers and European policy makers in Brussels, held to discuss the forthcoming review of the EU food labelling directive.

Speaking at the event, manufacturers welcomed the review - but said it should be about more than simply consolidating the current legislation.

"The original directive was successful, clear and balanced," said Michael Hunt, FDF food law and labelling manager. "But since it was introduced many additional requirements have put pressure on labelling space.

"We welcome the streamlining of legislation to make it clearer and easier. But we would not want to see only neater, trimmer legislation that still increases the amount of information that manufacturers and retailers are required to put on their product labelling." The review should look at ways of reducing unnecessary clutter and limiting any further "mushrooming" of information demands, he said.

Ideas of how to reduce some of the labelling burden on industry included the removal of duplicate information and information that was not meaningful.

Retailers said they were concerned that extending allergen information and 'Best Before' dates to loose foods would be expensive for the smallest companies. If all micro-businesses selling through the country's 500 farmers' markets needed to apply date tickets on products they would have to invest €1m in labelling guns alone, said the BRC.