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The Food Information Regulation has been described as the most important and all-encompassing change to food labelling in the European Union for 30 years. 

The regulation came into force on 13 December 2011, with most of the provisions applying from 13 December 2014, although mandatory nutrition labelling will not come in until two years later. 

This regulation applies throughout the EU to food business operators at all stages of the food chain, where their activities concern the provision of food information to consumers. So, what exactly is required of food business operators?

  1. Nutrition Labelling 

    'Back of pack' nutrition labelling of pre-packed foods will be compulsory. The labelling of energy (in both kJ and kcal), fat, saturates, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and salt will all be mandatory; it will also be required to declare levels of any nutrients mentioned in claims. Certain other nutrients can be listed, but this is a defined and restricted list. 

    Voluntary 'front of pack' information will continue for energy, fat, saturates, sugar and salt, along with GDAs (Guideline Daily Amounts) per portion, but the use of 'traffic light' schemes will be restricted.
     
  2. Country of Origin Labelling 

    Country of origin labelling will become compulsory for fresh and frozen meat of pork, sheep, goats and poultry and also for primary ingredients where the country of origin of the primary ingredient is not the same as the stated origin of the food. 
  3. Allergen Labelling 

    Although allergen labelling requirements will be much as they are now, the presence of any of 14 listed allergens will need to be highlighted in some way to make their presence more obvious to the consumer. 
  4. Labelling Legibility and Clarity

    Legibility is determined by various factors including font size, letter spacing, spacing between lines, stroke width, type colour, typeface, width-height ratio of the letters, the surface of the packaging material and the contrast between the print and the background. There will now be more detailed and specific controls including a minimum font size of 1.2mm (although small packs, below 80cm2,  can use a 0.9mm font).
  5. Added Ingredients in Meat and Fishery Products 

    All meat products and fishery products containing added proteins of a different animal origin will need to refer to these proteins in their names.
  6. Other Eat and Fish Labelling Issues 

    There will need to be an indication of the date of freezing or date of first freezing for frozen meat, frozen meat preparations and frozen unprocessed fishery products. 

    Also required will be an indication of the word ‘formed' in the name of meat products, meat preparations and fishery products which may give the impression that they are a whole piece of meat but consist of combined pieces. 
  7. Labelling of Vegetable Oil 

     Use of the generic name ‘vegetable oil' will be lost , unless all vegetable oils are also declared in the ingredients lists: "Vegetable oils (soya, palm, sunflower in varying proportions) ..." with total weight of the individual oils deciding their position in the list. Additionally ‘fully hydrogenated' and/or ‘partly hydrogenated' must be added as appropriate. 
  8. Mandatory Information for Particular Products 

    Labelling of high caffeine drinks 

    Drinks other than tea and coffee with high levels of caffeine (above 150mg/l) will need to give the following warning: "High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breast-feeding women" followed by statement of content.

    For solid foods where caffeine has been added at any level for a physiological purpose: "Contains caffeine. Not recommended for children or pregnant women" followed by statement of content.

    Labelling of aspartame 

    Where aspartame or aspartame/acesulfame salt is listed in an ingredients list by E number, the following warning needs to be given: “Contains aspartame (a source of phenylalanine)" 

    If it is listed as aspartame, the warning should read: "Contains a source of phenylalanine"
  9. Defrosted Foods 

    ‘Defrosted' must accompany the name of defrosted foods where freezing has an effect on safety or quality; this will not apply if freezing is a technologically necessary step
  10. Strengthening the Ban on Misleading Labelling 

    Food information, advertising and presentation (including shape, appearance, packaging, arrangement, and display setting) must not mislead and must be accurate, clear and easy to understand. 

    Labelling must not suggest that a food has special characteristics when these are shared by all similar foods – this particularly applies to emphasising the presence or absence of certain ingredients and nutrients.

    Labelling must not suggest the presence of a particular food or ingredient when a natural component or expected ingredient has been substituted.
   
         
     
     
   

HB Ingredients
Cocoa House, 15, The Cliffe Industrial Estate, Lewes, East Sussex. BN8 6JL.
Sales order hot-line:+44(0)844 32 44 499
Enquiries:+44(0)845 88 00 799 Fax:+44(0)845 88 00 833