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Labelling of foodstuffs

The European Union (EU) is improving the rules concerning the labelling of foodstuffs so that consumers have essential, legible, and comprehensible labelling at their disposal in order to make informed choices when buying products. For public health reasons, the new rules strengthen protection against allergens.

ACT

Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 concerning consumer information on foodstuffs, amended by Regulations (EC) No. 1924/2006 and (EC) No. 1925/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Directive 87/250/EEC of the Commission, Directive 90/496/EEC of the Council, Directive 1999/10/CE of the Commission, Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, Directives 2002/67/EC and 2008/5/EC of the Commission and Regulation (EC) No. 608/2004 of the Commission.

SUMMARY

This Regulation merges together Directives 2000/13/EC on the labelling of foodstuffs and 90/496/EEC on nutritional labelling in order to improve the level of consumer information and protection in Europe.

Scope

This Regulation applies to food business operators at all stages of the food chain. It applies to all foodstuffs intended for the final consumer, including those served by mass caterers, or intended to be delivered to mass caterers.

This Regulation applies without prejudice to the labelling requirements provided for in specific European Union (EU) provisions applicable to particular foodstuffs.

General requirements

The nature of the labelling, the presentation of the foodstuff, and the publicity for it must not:

Information on foodstuffs must be precise, clear and easy to understand by the consumer.

Responsibilities of the operator

The operator under whose name or business name the food is marketed or the importer (if that operator is not established in the EU) is responsible for the information relating to the foodstuff. They must ensure the presence and accuracy of the information in accordance with the applicable European food legislation and requirements of relevant national provisions.

Where foodstuffs are prepacked, the required information must appear on the prepackaging or on the label attached to it.

Where foodstuffs are not prepacked, the food information must be sent to the operator receiving the foodstuffs so that the latter is in a position to provide the information to the end consumer, if necessary.

Mandatory particulars

The mandatory particulars must be easy to understand and visible, clearly legible and, where appropriate, indelible. The height of «x» the characters must be at least 1.2mm (except for small-sized packaging or containers).

The mandatory particulars concern:

  • the name;
  • the list of ingredients;
  • the substances causing allergies or intolerances (nuts, milk, mustard, fish, grains containing gluten, etc.);
  • the quantity of certain ingredients or categories of ingredients;
  • the net quantity of the food;
  • the date of minimum durability or the ‘use by’ date;
  • any special storage conditions and/or conditions of use;
  • the name or business name and address of the food business operator or importer;
  • the country of origin or place of provenance for certain types of meat, milk or where failure to indicate this might mislead the consumer;
  • instructions for use where it would be difficult to make appropriate use of the food in the absence of such instructions;
  • for beverages containing more than 1.2 % by volume of alcohol, the actual alcoholic strength by volume;
  • a nutritional declaration.

The mandatory particulars concerning the name, net quantity and the alcoholic strength by volume shall appear in the same field of vision.

The mandatory particulars must be in language which is easy to understand by the consumer, and, if required, in several languages.

Omission of certain mandatory particulars

Specific provisions are provided for:

  • glass bottles intended for re-use;
  • small-sized packaging;
  • the nutritional labelling of foodstuffs listed in Annex V;
  • beverages containing more than 1.2 % by volume of alcohol.

Voluntary information

Information provided voluntarily must meet the following requirements:

  • it shall not mislead the consumer;
  • it shall not be ambiguous or misleading;
  • it shall, where appropriate, be based on the relevant scientific data.

Furthermore, the voluntary food information shall not be displayed to the detriment of the space available for mandatory food information.

The Commission shall adopt measures to ensure that the voluntary information indicating:a) the accidental presence of substances causing allergies or intolerances, b) the acceptability of a food for vegetarians or vegans, and c) the reference intake for specific categories of the population, etc., meets the aforementioned requirements.

Date of application

This Regulation shall apply from 13 December 2014, with the exception of the provisions concerning the obligation to provide a nutritional declaration, which shall apply from 13 December 2016.

The date of application of Annex VI concerning the name of the food and specific accompanying particulars is set as 1st January 2014.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011

12.12.2011

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OJ L 304 of 22.11.2011

Last updated: 25.01.2012
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