As responsible businesses ESA members support the accurate labelling of all foods to help consumers make informed choices by providing them with information on a wide variety of issues including ingredient composition, nutritional value, portion sizes and storage conditions.
The Food Information to Consumers Regulation (EU) 1169/2011, which comes into effect on 13 December 2014*, consolidates and updates the existing European food labelling legislation into a single text and also introduces a number of new requirements. These new requirements include:
• a minimum font size for mandatory information
• mandatory back-of-pack nutrition labelling
• a clearer indication of allergens in the ingredient list
• indication of the vegetable oil type(s) for vegetable oil
*For those businesses, who have yet to introduce nutrition labelling on their products, the obligation to provide mandatory back-of-pack nutrition labelling will apply from 13 December 2016.
ESA members have been at the forefront of voluntarily providing consumers with nutrition information, including the roll-out of Reference Intakes on front of pack to provide nutrition information on a per portion basis.
The new Regulation includes a list of allergens which have been transferred over from the existing European Directive. However, the new law also introduces a change in terms of how to label allergens in food products.
From 13 December 2014 a separate list of allergens (or highlighted box as is commonly seen in the UK) is no longer permitted, and instead there is a requirement to highlight each allergenic ingredient (or processing aid) in the ingredients list.
The Regulation also commits the European Commission to establish rules on voluntary precautionary allergen labelling, however it does not specify any legal deadline for this work.
ESA members have been anticipating the Commission’s work on the rules with regard to voluntary precautionary allergen labelling and developed a sector position.
Read here ESA position paper on allergen labelling.
The new labelling Regulation will also extend the provisions for mandatory country of origin labelling (MCOOL) for some meats; the European Commission also has the task of looking at both voluntary country of origin labelling, and mandatory country of origin labelling for 'unprocessed, single ingredient products & ingredients representing more than 50% of a food'.
As a sector ESA fully supports the principle that misleading statements of origin should not be made. However, we remain concerned that any extension of the legislation to cover mandatory origin labelling for products such as crisps, nuts and savoury snacks would be highly burdensome for industry to achieve, and would lead to greatly increased costs, with little benefit to improving consumer information, and absolutely no impact upon food safety.
Read here ESA position paper on origin labelling.