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 came into effect on 13 December 2014, consolidated and updates the existing European food labelling legislation into a single text and also introduced a number of new requirements. These 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

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.

Allergen labelling

The Regulation includes a list of allergens which have been transferred over from the previous European Directive. However, the Regulation also introduced a change in terms of how to label allergens in food products.

From 13 December 2014 a separate list of allergens is no longer permitted, and instead there is a requirement to highlight each allergenic ingredient (or processing aid) in the ingredients list.

Origin 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.