2014 is already presenting the greatest regulatory hurdle that the food industry has faced in a generation. The Food Information for Consumers Regulation requires virtually every single food label in the EU to be changed. While manufacturers and retailers are still trying to get to grips with the ever moving feast of ‘guidance’ and implementation legislation proliferating at the moment, the consumer is going to be faced with labels that are already drawing enquiry and criticism, particularly for those that suffer from food allergies and intolerances.
Regulation on Food Information for Consumers (Food Labelling)
Regulation 1169/2011 on food information for consumers was finally published at the close of 2011, completely overhauling food labelling and bringing it into the format of a regulation for the first time. One of the key features of the regulation will be the mandatory nutrition labelling on almost all pre-packed foods from 13 December 2016, within a new prescribed format. This means that although a very high percentage of foods already carry voluntary nutrition labelling according to Directive 90/496, all of these foods will be required to change their packaging to comply with new format and content. Foods that are already accompanied by a nutrition panel must also comply with the changes by 13 December 2014, a full two years before other foods not already carrying voluntary labelling. The nutrition panel will now mandatorily consist of energy, fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt (note the removal of fibre and the movement of protein further down the panel), with voluntary provision for monounsaturates, polyunsaturates, polyols, starch, fibre and vitamins and minerals. Information will be provided per 100g/ml and may also be provided as a percentage of the reference intakes, which are laid out in Annex XIII. Nutritional information per portion may also be provided, and there is provision for the European Commission to look into setting portion sizes within the legislation, although the scale of this task is undeniably huge and is therefore not subject to any deadline.