The label has now been introduced in Denmark and Norway. Iceland may join the scheme later but Finland already has a similar label, the ‘Heart’.
Products that are low in fat, salt and sugar may be labelled with the Keyhole. The aim of the joint label, which is a green keyhole on the packaging, is to make it easier for consumers to choose healthy food. Instead of trying to decipher the often cryptic description of contents on food packets, the consumer can quickly see if this is a healthy product. From now on dairy products, fish, meat and vegetables etc. can be labelled with the Keyhole.
The background for the joint labelling scheme is that Nordic food products are very similar and Nordic citizens often travel to neighbouring countries to buy food. However, there are differences in buying patterns. A study, funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, has shown, amongst other things, that Danes pay great attention to the amount of fat in food, Swedes are particularly concerned about the amount of sugar while Norwegians avoid eating too much salt.
The criteria for the Keyhole build on the fruits of many years’ of earlier work with the Nordic Nutritional Recommendations. The Keyhole is a welcome extension to this work, in that the nutrition recommendations become more accessible in the form of a joint label aimed at consumers. The Council of Ministers has contributed to funding the scheme with campaign material and consumer studies, for example.
The Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Halldór Ásgrímsson, supports the Keyhole, and emphasizes that it is an important follow-up to the joint Nordic Plan of Action for Diet and Physical Activity. Since food companies and retailers often operate across national borders, this joint label will make life considerably easier for them, underlined Ásgrímsson.
The Keyhole is a voluntary scheme for food producers. The national authorities in the respective countries are responsible for the Keyhole, which is not only a Nordic labelling scheme, but can be used in all countries of the world provided they conform to the criteria for the label.