High time for CIAA to come clean on its lobbying

CIAA's €1-billion campaign to promote the GDA 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 estimates in an European Voice article about EU food labelling regulation. The bottom line is CIAA would have never invested a single penny into a GDA scheme if the Commission in 2006 had not decided 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 States 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 that CIAA comes out of the closet, and registers in the Commission's lobby transparency register, which it has boycotted for the last two years.

This comment has been sent to EurActiv.com on 22 June following the publication of the article "Food industry wins battle on 'traffic light' labels".

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