Food labeling information: New European (EU) legislation in sight

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Current legislation food labeling establishes that food information must not mislead the consumer; this implies the obligation to be truthful about the characteristics of the food: nature, identity, qualities, composition, quantity, duration, country of origin, way of production or processing.

In no case may the labelling attribute to the food effects or properties that it does not possess and neither imply that it has special characteristics of its own. For example, a claim statement regarding non cholesterol bread is not allowed.

Likewise, the presence of an ingredient cannot be suggested when it has been replaced by a different component. Therefore, incorporating into the potato chip bag the image of an olive oil dispenser when this ingredient is only partially used, means that current labeling requirements are not observed.

As a consequence of the high index of incorrect labeling and the crisis derived from these faults (remember a few months ago the withdrawal of a baby syrup in Spain due to an error in the volume indicated in the instructions) reveals the food misinformation that we suffer as consumers. For this reason, the competent bodies of the EU have unified and clarified the rules of the game of food labeling with the regulation 1169/2011 of implementation in all the Member States.

What does the regulation on Food labeling Information to the Consumer tell us?

  • Mandatory nutritional declaration on the different nutrients, calories, saturated fats, carbohydrates, proteins and salt of the products, in order to ensure that consumers are aware of the composition of food and its impact on health.
  • Declaration of allergens in a outstandable way.
  • Origin of products for fresh meat, as well as meat used as an ingredient, milk or unprocessed food.
  • Indication of the vegetable origin of oils and fats.
  • Mandatory reporting of the presence of artificial nanomaterials in food.
  • Indication of the date of freezing and de-freezing: the expression "frozen on" is mandatory for meat, non-processed fishery products and meat products. Expression "de-frozen on" for thawed products before sale.
  • Mandatory additional mentions: it is necessary to mention if the product has been packed in a protective atmosphere, mention of sweeteners, caffeine, glycyrrhizin acid or its ammonium salt, phytosterol ...
  • For e-commerce, it is mandatory to provide food information on the on-line selling platform.
  • Need for additional labeling for alcoholic beverages (from 1.2% alcohol) and Alcopops or soft drinks with alcohol.

And all these changes allows food labeling to be more comprenhensive?

It seems that not all consumer groups are prepared to process all the information that is available.

From RepaQ we offer the possibility of giving support in the adaptation of labeling and carry out training sessions for those packers who wish to market their products.