Brief overview on the Reg. (EU) n. 1169/2011, also known as FIC (“Food information to consumers”).

Following the requests of many of my “non-EU” readers, I publish a brief recap of the new provisions of the Regulation…and some links to useful resources.

As of 13 December 2014, new EU food labeling rules are in force: from this date became applicable the Regulation (EU) n. 1169/2011 on food information to consumers, also known as FIC or FIR Regulation. The aim of the new rules is to ensure that consumers receive clearer, more comprehensive and accurate information on food content, helping them to make informed choices about what they eat. The new Regulation replaces the old Directive 2000/13/EU, which is now repealed.

Some of the key changes to the labeling rules are outlined below:

  • Improved legibility of the information (minimum font size for mandatory information, now 1,2 mm in the most of cases);

  • Clearer and harmonised presentation of allergens (e.g. soy, nuts, gluten, lactose) for prepacked foods (emphasised by font, style or background colour) in the list of ingredients;

  • Mandatory allergen information for non-prepacked food, including those sold in restaurants and cafes;

  • Requirement of certain nutrition information for majority of prepacked processed foods (applicable from 13th December 2016);

  • Mandatory origin information for fresh meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry (Reg. (EU) n. 1337/2014);

  • Same labeling requirements for online, distance-selling or buying in a shop;

  • List of engineered nanomaterials in the ingredients.

  • Specific information on the vegetable origin of refined oils and fats;

  • Strengthened rules to prevent misleading practices;

  • Indication of substitute ingredient for ‘Imitation’ foods;

  • Clear indication of “formed meat” or “formed fish”;

  • Clear indication of defrosted products;

  • Clear indication of added water, especially in meat and fish products.

The Regulation was published three years ago and provides a transitional period for exhaustion of stocks for foods placed on the market or labeled before 13 December 2014 (but this does not includes labels).

Despite food business operators have been given three years to ensure a smooth transition towards the new labeling regime for prepacked and non-prepacked foods, the situation is quite to be clear, especially for non-prepacked foods, where there is not a full harmonization and the EU Commission left space to national legislation.

On this side, there is also an ongoing study on the feasibility of a EU database to facilitate the identification of all EU and national mandatory labeling rules in a simple way. This should offer a user-friendly tool for all food business operators and for SME’s, but it will not be ready at least until the second part of 2015.

Recently, on the DG SANCO website, were published Guidelines related to the indication of the presence of certain substances or products causing allergies or intolerances as described in Article 9.1(c) and listed in Annex II of the Regulation. The document is the subject of a public consultation that will end on 4th January 2015 and it covers also some aspects related to non-prepacked foods.

On 31st January 2013, the EU Commission published the first – and until now unique – document of clarification of some specific provisions: Questions and Answers on the application of the Regulation (EU) N° 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. More Q&A and guidelines documents are expected to be published in the next few months: they will cover different topics, in particular general labeling, nutrition labeling, the QUID (Quantitative Ingredients Declaration) and specific products’ type (i.e. meat and fish).

Food recalls in EU – Week 27

This week on the RASFF database (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) we have one recall from consumers in EU in the alert notifications:

– Allergens: undeclared wheat in ice cream, following company’s own check. Origin Finland, notified by Finland, distributed also to Estonia.

Between the information for attention, followed by a recall from consumers:

– Foreign bodies: metal pieces in canned sardines in oil, following company’s own check. Origin Portugal, notified by France.

Between the alert notifications, followed by a withdrawal from the market of the product, we find:

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: suspicion of Clostridium Botulinum in pesto sauce with black truffles, following food poisoning. Origin Hungary, notified by Hungary, distributed also to Hong Kong and Slovakia;

Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella enteritidis in frozen chicken leg, following an official control on the market. Origin Poland, notified by Latvia;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella typhimurium in frozen chicken carcasses, following company’s own check. Origin France, notified by France, distributed also to Bulgaria, Guadeloupe, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Portugal, United Arab Emirates and Macedonia;

– Mycotoxins: aflatoxins in sunflower seeds, following an official control on the market. Origin Argentina (via United Kingdom), notified by Germany;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: enteropathogenic Escherichia Coli in raw goat milk cheese, following an official control on the market. Origin France, notified by France, distributed also to Belgium, Gabon, Germany, Luxembourg, South Africa and Switzerland;

– Poor or insufficient controls: inadequate thermal processing on chilled liver sausage, following a consumer complaint. Origin Poland, notified by Poland, distributed also to Sweden;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: foodborne outbreak caused by Salmonella enteritidis in deep frozen pork tenderloin, following food poisoning. Origin Hungary, notified by Slovakia;

– Residues of medicinal veterinary products: prohibited substance diethylstilbestrol in pork, following an official control on the market. Origin Denmark/Germany, notified by Germany, distributed also to Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States;

Organoleptic aspects: unsuitable organoleptic characteristics in cocktail shrimps, following a consumer complaint. Origin India, notified by Germany, distributed also to Belgium, Netherlands and Poland.

Amongst border rejections we have Salmonella spp. in boneless bovine meat from Brazil and in frozen poultry preparation from Argentina, suspicion of shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli in chilled boneless beef from Argentina, aflatoxins in groundnut kernels from China and chilli powder from India, absence of certified analytical report and of Common Entry Document (CED) for melon seeds from Nigeria, frozen cheese from the United States with defective packaging, illegal import of and Salmonella spp. in paan leaves from Bangladesh, unauthorised genetically modified papaya from Thailand, chlorpyriphos-methyl in chickpeas from Argentina, cypermethrin and cyhalothrin in chilli peppers from the Dominican Republic, formetanate in fresh peppers from Turkey, poor temperature control of frozen tuna from South Africa and frozen squid, mercury in frozen squid from Peru, benzo(a)pyrene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in non-refined soybean oil from Ukraine, unauthorised substance sildenafil and novel food (Scutellaria elliptica & incana) in food supplement from the United States.

For feed, we don’t have any relevant notification this week.

For food contact materials we have a border rejection for migration of bis(2-ethylhexyl) terephthalate (DOTP) from lid of jar containing garlic paste from Thailand.

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