New labelling rules for food

Olio Officina

From 13 December, the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation 1169/2011 requires food businesses to provide allergy information on food sold unpackaged in, for example, catering outlets, deli counters, bakeries and sandwich bars or served in restaurants. There are also changes to existing legislation on labelling allergenic ingredients in prepacked foods.

The Food Information Regulations 2014 were laid in Parliament on 15 July 2014 and came into force on 15 August 2014. Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of information to consumers replaces and combines into one piece of legislation previous labelling rules deriving from Directive 2000/13/EC regarding labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs and Directive 90/496/EEC on nutrition labelling of foodstuffs and other legislative acts for specific categories of foods.

The legislation establishes improved legibility of information (minimum font size for mandatory information); clearer and harmonised presentation of allergens (e.g. soy, nuts, gluten, lactose) for prepacked foods (emphasis by font, style or background colour) in the list of ingredients; mandatory allergen information for non-prepacked food, including in restaurants and cafes; requirement of certain nutrition information for majority of prepacked processed foods; mandatory origin information for fresh meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry; same labelling requirements for online, distance-selling or buying in a shop; list of engineered nanomaterials in the ingredients.

As to oil sector, it requires specific information on the vegetable origin of refined oils and fats. The law also includes strengthened rules to prevent misleading practices, indication of substitute ingredient for ‘Imitation’ foods, clear indication of “formed meat” or “formed fish” and clear indication of defrosted products.

However, rules relating to mandatory nutritional labelling for processed food will only apply from 13 December 2016. Food business operators have been given three years to ensure a smooth transition towards the new labelling regime for prepacked and non-prepacked foods. In addition, the Regulation provides for exhaustion of stocks for foods placed on the market or labelled before 13 December 2014 (N.B. this does not include exhaustion of stocks of labels).

The Commission has been working together with businesses to ensure that the new rules will be properly implemented. Work is also underway on developing an EU database to facilitate the identification of all EU and national mandatory labelling rules in a simple way. This will offer a user-friendly tool for all food business operators and for SME’s to consult. The work for the creation of the database should be carried out during 2015.

(Source: European Commission)

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