Food labelling

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 3 February 2012



(2012), "Food labelling", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 42 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Food labelling

Article Type: Food facts From: Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 42, Issue 1

Food labelling requirements have been agreed by the European Union (EU). Member States may themselves decide how the information is to be made available to consumers. The legislation aimed to modernise, simplify and clarify food labelling within the EU. It will harmonise information rules for all food labels, including the list of ingredients, “best before” or “use by” dates and specific conditions of use. The new rules will also add a requirement to list key nutrition information on food packaging, in a mandatory “nutrition declaration”. Labels must also be made more legible. For producers and food business operators, this will reduce red tape and strengthen the single market.

Finally, the new rules streamline requirements for listing allergens, the sources of vegetable oils, and other information designed to ensure that consumers are not misled. Under existing EU rules, the origin of certain foods – such as beef, honey, olive oil and fresh fruit and vegetables – already has to be shown on the label. This also applies where the failure to do so would mislead the consumer. This rule will now be extended to fresh meat from pigs, sheep, goat and poultry, at Parliament’s request. The commission will have to introduce implementing rules for this purpose within two years of the regulation’s entry into force. Country of origin labelling could in future be extended to other categories of food (such as meat when used as an ingredient, milk or unprocessed foods) but the commission must first do impact assessments to weigh up the feasibility and potential costs of doing this. The new rules will also ensure that consumers are not misled by the appearance, description or pictorial presentation of food packaging. In addition, it will be easy to spot “imitation foods” – foods that look similar to other foods but are made of different ingredients, such as “cheese-like” foods made with vegetable products. Where an ingredient that would normally be expected has been replaced, this will have to be clearly stated on the front of the pack in a prominent font size and next to the brand name. Meat consisting of combined meat parts must be labelled “formed meat”. The same will apply to “formed fish”.

Once the legislation is approved and published in the EU Official Journal, food businesses will have three years to adapt to most of the rules. However, for the rules on nutrition values, they will have five years.

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