EU Labeling – Prepacked foods offered for sale by means of distance communication

Another remarkably clear position of the EU Commission, on which I can’t do anything more than agree. Please note that if your selling unit is a box of 20 pieces of a product, then the obligation – like for retail – might be referred to the box.

Question for written answer E-001966/2021 to the EU Commission – 13th April 2021

Article 14(1)(b) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the sale of prepacked by means of distance communication provides that ‘all mandatory particulars shall be available at the moment of delivery’.

Many companies shipping to several different EU countries do not necessarily have products labelled in the language of the country of destination and this provision increases the administrative burden on operators.

In the light of the above, can the Commission answer the following questions:

1. If products delivered are labelled in a language other than that of the country of destination, can the particulars also be made available in the form of a package leaflet/accompanying document, inserted in the packaging, containing all the relevant information in the language of the country of destination?

2. If not, does Article 12(2) of the regulation apply, which stipulates that ‘in the case of prepacked food, mandatory food information shall appear directly on the package or on a label attached thereto’?

Answer – 11th June 2021

Article 14(1) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 provides that, in the case of pre-packed foods offered for sale by means of distance communication, all mandatory particulars shall be available at the moment of delivery. Article 12(2) of the same Regulation provides that in the case of pre-packed food, mandatory food information shall appear on the package or on a label attached thereto.

Article 15 further provides that mandatory food information shall appear in a language easily understood by the consumers of the Member States where a food is marketed and that within their own territory, the Member States in which a food is marketed may stipulate that the particulars shall be given in one or more languages from among the official languages of the Union.

In conclusion, for pre-packed food offered for sale by means of distance communication, all mandatory food information shall therefore be provided on the package or on a label attached thereto in a language easily understood by the consumers of the Member State in which the food is marketed.

(Source: EU Parliament website)

2 thoughts on “EU Labeling – Prepacked foods offered for sale by means of distance communication

  1. A few questions. Whose responsibility is it to ensure that the food is labelled for the final consumer in the correct language?
    In the first instance surely the food is marketed online in member state A where the mandatory particulars are in the language of member state A. If a purchaser buys online from them they will be buying product where the information is in the language of member state A. It is reasonable to expect that the foods supplied by them will be provided in the language of member state A.
    If the purchaser is based in and decides to market the food in member state B then surely it is their legal responsibility to ensure that the food is labelled correctly?
    Although of course the product has to be labelled for the final consumer, do you agree that the seller in member state B is responsible for the labelling as it is them that market the product in that country.

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    1. Primary of the brand owner under art. 8.1 FIC, but also of those who cannot intervene on labeling but are distributing foods according to the other paragraphs in the same article: this includes the online platform which is selling or the local distributor. About languages, since geoblocking is not basically anymore possible (it would have been against consumers interest according to the EC Commission), if you as a company are specifically targeting a market (e.g. Italy), preparing a page in Italian or with reference to the Italian market, then I think you shall provide also the product with the information in Italian. But what if you are a global online platform, with servers in Aruba, a legal entity registered in the US and you are selling worldwide in English? This is the real problem. A consumer from Italy can buy from there, the products will skip customs check as small packages for personal use and basically compliance with EU (or Italian) rules will not be granted. Enforcement authorities have no jurisdiction abroad. Cross-border e-commerce is the next big challenge!

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