The organisation, which represents the European food and drink industry, developed voluntary GDA values for energy, protein, total carbohydrates, total fat, saturated fat, fibre and sodium. To date eight major manufacturers have adopted it, and the CIAA says others are expected to join in the future.
The website (http://gda.ciaa.eu) is designed to help operators implement the scheme consistently. It includes information on the type of nutrition information required on packaging, accredited laboratories, food composition tables, and style and format of GDA labelling.
The site also has a parallel section aimed at consumers, to help them understand easily understand the nutritional content of food and drink products.
The CIAA recommendation, which includes front-of-pack and back-of-pack nutrition labelling, is based on a uniform list of nutrients, nutrition information per serving and the introduction of Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs).
The GDA recommendations used in the CIAA nutrition labelling scheme are based on the nutritional needs of an average adult with a health weight. The working group that drew them up agreed that they should be based on the Eurodiet nutrients population goals, and that they must be in line with the nutrition labelling directive.
GDAs, says the CIAA, "should be rounded to help the consumer use and remember the numbers with ease and to avoid the appearance of unwarranted precision".
The GDA initiative is an indication of the food and drinks industries' preparedness to self-regulate in order to help combat diet-related health issues, such as a the rising tide of obesity across Western countries.
On announcing the scheme to the European Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health in Brussels in July 2006, CIAA president Jean Martin said: "This labelling recommendation comes as a result of our commitments to the EU Platform to look at how to improve food labels in Europe. It takes into account comments and suggestions from stakeholders such as consumer groups, to better communicate nutrient information to busy shoppers."
However the CIAA maintains that promoting healthy living is not just a matter for food and drink producers.
"Achieving healthier lifestyles will require more than food labelling changes, notably efforts by other stakeholders to promote increased physical activity and broadly-based consumer education," said Martin. "However, with this initiative CIAA is making a substantial contribution to helping people make better informed dietary choices."
The EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, which was launched in March 2005, brings together 34 key players from the food industry and civil society to boost voluntary initiatives across the EU.
The platform has released a set of pledges its members have made to tackle obesity across the EU, including information campaigns to promote healthy lifestyles, reducing amounts of sugar and salt in food, improving nutritional information on packages and pledging not to market directly to children.