QeA EU Commission to EU Parliament – Allergens declaration on non pre-packed food

A useful reminder of the Commission on a principle that was not so clearly expressed into the legislation and still is not accepted by all the mass caterers and restaurants. See the last sentence in bold.

Question for written answer to the Commission – 5th June 2018 

Some of my constituents have alerted me to the fact that some Member States are apparently not requiring allergen information to be provided in restaurants and other food outlets. In order to determine whether these states are in breach of EC law, clarification is needed on the interpretation of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, which sets out the EU’s rules on consumer information on allergens in non-prepacked food.

On 13 July 2017, the Commission issued a notice updating allergen information requirements.

Under Article 9(1) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, food business operators are required to provide allergen information, including for non-prepacked food.

Article 44 authorises Member States to adopt national measures concerning the means through which this information is made available. Member States are required to notify the Commission when such measures have been adopted.

Given that the regulation is being applied differently from one Member State to another:

  1. Is the Commission assessing the national measures in order to determine whether they are consistent with the meaning and purpose of the regulation and whether Member States have gone beyond the terms of authorisation granted to them?
  2. What are the criteria for assessing how well consumers are being alerted to the presence of allergens?
  3. Can Member States, in the context of their national measures, choose to disregard the obligations set out in Article 13 of the regulation in the case of non-prepacked food and provide allergen information only when requested by consumers?

Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the Commission – 16th July

Under Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, Member States may adopt national measures concerning the means through which information on allergens on non-prepacked foods is to be made available.

In principle, all means of communication as regards the provision of allergen information are allowed to enable the consumer to make an informed choice, e.g. a label, other accompanying material, or any other means including modern technology tools or verbal communication (i.e. verifiable oral information). In this respect, the majority of the Member States have already adopted such national rules following their prior notification to the Commission.

In the context of the aforesaid notifications, the draft national measures in question have been evaluated by the Commission in the light of the relevant EU provisions, including Article 13 of the regulation.

In particular, it has been assessed whether the information on allergens is available and easily accessible, so the consumer is informed that the non-prepacked food raises issues relating to allergens and intolerances. In this context, it is not compliant with the EU legislation to provide allergen information only upon request by the consumer.

(Source: EU Parliament)

QeA EU Parliament – EU Commission to EU Parliament on Meat Sounding

Question for written answer to the Commission 23rd May 2018

Subject:  Fraudulent use of the term ‘meat’

Such terms as meat, hamburger, beefsteak or sausage are being used unlawfully. All of them are clearly defined and cannot lawfully be used to refer to products that have nothing to do with meat. The dictionary definition of ‘meat’ is ‘musculature of human beings and animals’. Despite this, we observe that these words are increasingly being used in cases where there is little or no meat in the food product concerned. People selling it as meat are misleading consumers and evidently wish to imply a connection with meat for marketing reasons.

Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers leaves no room for doubt as to what comprises correction food information. The regulation stipulates that legislation on food information must prohibit the provision of information that is misleading for consumers, particularly as regards the nature, effects or properties of foods. To be effective, that prohibition should also apply to the advertising and presentation of foods.

A recent judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU prohibits the unlawful use, for example, of ‘vegan cheese’ or ‘soya milk’.

1. What initiatives is the Commission planning in order to combat fraudulent use of the term ‘meat’?

2. Has the Commission received any other complaints about this?

Answer given by Mr Andriukaitis on behalf of the European Commission – 19th July 2018

1. Where no specific legislation provides for particular designations for meat-based foods, the provisions of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, which set the general labelling rules, apply.

The regulation contains a series of provisions empowering Member States to act when considering certain terms being misleading or misinforming for consumers.

In this respect, Article 7(1)(a) of the regulation requests that food information shall not be misleading as to the characteristics of the food and, in particular, as to its nature and composition.

Moreover, point 17, Part A of Annex VII to the regulation provides a definition of meat for labelling purpose: ‘skeletal muscles of mammalian and bird species recognised as fit for human consumption with naturally included or adherent tissue (…)’. On this basis, the term ‘meat’ can only be used on food labels when it complies with this definition.

Member States have the primary responsibility for the enforcement and the correct implementation of the legislation. The Commission considers that the abovementioned provisions give the Member States useful elements and criteria to combat the use of misleading terms on foods.

To complement this framework, Article 36(3)(b) of the regulation foresees that the Commission shall adopt an implementing act on the voluntary provision of information related to the suitability of foods for vegetarians or vegans. The Commission cannot, however, commit at this stage to a specific date or to the content of this measure.

2. The Commission has not received other complaints on this matter.

(Source: EU Parliament)