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 The new Regulation replaces the old Directive 2000/13/EU, which is now repealed.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).

UK recent notifications to the EU Commission

English: Home nations flag of the United Kingd...
English: Home nations flag of the United Kingdom. A combination of four flags of the four constituent countries of the UK: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The following document, courtesy of Luis Gonzalez Vaque and of the British Institute of International law and Comparative Law, it’s really interesting for the future of labelling in UK and for the enforcement of the FIC Regulation 1169/11.

“United Kingdom: List of recent notifications to the European Commission* under Directive 98/34/EC**

◊ Notification Number: 2013/446/UK– End of Standstill Period: 07-Nov-2013 – The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2007:

These draft Regulations amend Schedule 2 to the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2007 by substituting new waste packaging and recovery targets for the years 2012 to 2017 and an amended formula for the calculation of the amount of glass packaging waste that a producer must recycle by re-melt. The amended formula reflects government’s express intention and policy and ensures that the glass recycling by re-melt target is applied to a producer’s glass recycling obligation and not his total obligated glass tonnage.

To consult the full text of the draft proposal, see: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/tris/pisa/app/search/index.cfm?fuseaction=getdraft&inum=1938309

 

◊ Notification Number: 2013/394/UK– End of Standstill Period: 21-Oct-2013 – The draft Food Information Regulations 2013, The draft Food Information Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013, The draft Food Information (Scotland) Regulations 2013, The draft Food Information (Wales) Regulations 2013:

 

The respective sets of draft Food Information Regulations (the draft Regulations) provide for the execution and enforcement in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, amending Regulations (EC) No 1924/2006 and (EC) No 1925/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Commission Directive 87/250/EEC, Council Directive 90/496/EEC, Commission Directive 1999/10/EC, Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, Commission Directives 2002/67/EC and 2008/5/EC and Commission Regulation (EC) No 608/2004.

 

The draft Regulations also take advantage of derogations and make use of the flexibility to introduce certain national measures permitted by the EU Regulation.

 

The Food Labelling Regulations 1996 (as amended) in England, Scotland and Wales and equivalent Regulations in Northern Ireland, which implement existing EU legislation on food labelling, will be revoked and replaced by the four sets of Food Information Regulations 2013.

 

As provided for by Article 44.2 of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, the UK proposes to introduce national measures concerning the means by which allergen information for foods sold non-prepacked can be provided.

 

Regulation 5(3) of the draft Food Information Regulations 2013 (the FIR Regulations 2013), regulation 5(3) of the Food Information Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2013 (the FIR Northern Ireland Regulations), regulation 6(3) of the draft Food Information (Scotland) Regulations 2013 (the FIR Scotland Regulations) and regulation 5 (3) of the Food Information (Wales) Regulations 2013 (the FIR Wales Regulations) cover foods that are not prepacked which contain an allergenic substance or product as listed in Annex II to (EU) No Regulation 1169/2011 or contain a substance or product derived from an Annex II substance or product. In relation to those foods, Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 requires details to be provided about the relevant substance or product used in the manufacture or preparation of such food but Article 44.2 of the EU Regulation allows flexibility in how this information is to be provided. The UK is intending to allow the information to be provided by food business operators in any way they wish, including orally subject to conditions.

 

Where a food business operator intends to use oral means of providing details of allergenic ingredients used in non-prepackaged food, they must indicate in writing that details (of the Annex II substance) can be obtained by asking a member of staff. This indication must be provided on a label attached to the food or on a notice, menu, ticket or label that is readily discernible by the consumers at the place where they choose that food.

 

As provided for in Article 44.1(a), the UK proposes to introduce a national measure for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to carry forward requirements to provide additional mandatory particulars in relation to the name of the product on non-prepacked food.

 

Regulation 6 of the FIR Regulations 2013, regulation 6 of the FIR Northern Ireland Regulations 2013, regulation 5 of the FIR Scotland Regulations 2013, and regulation 8 of FIR Wales Regulation 2013 cover foods that are not prepacked and foods that are prepacked for direct sale and require a Food Business Operator, who offers for sale a food to which this regulation applies at premises where sales are made to final consumers, to provide the name of the food.

 

As provided for in Article 44.1(b), the UK proposes to introduce a national measure for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to retain mandatory requirements to provide Quantitative Ingredients Declarations (QUID) on the meat content of certain meat products sold non-prepacked. Currently, UK food labelling legislation applies the QUID requirements to prepacked food and specifically meat products when sold loose e.g. meat pies from a butcher’s counter. As before, the national measure requiring a QUID in relation to the meat content of certain meat products will not apply to foods such as soup, pizzas, sandwiches and food sold from caterers.

 

Regulation 7 of the FIR Regulations 2013, regulation 7 of the FIR Northern Ireland Regulations 2013, regulation 7 of the FIR Scotland Regulations 2013, and regulation 7 of FIR Wales Regulations 2013 cover this proposal and relate to products containing meat and other ingredients for NPP foods, for which a QUID must be provided for the ingredients of the food that are meat.

 

To consult the full text of the draft proposal, see: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/tris/pisa/app/search/index.cfm?fuseaction=getdraft&inum=1930910

  

* Compiled and edited by Cristina Vidreras, cristinavidreras@yahoo.es. We publish this list for the purpose of disclosing information about notifications to the European Commission under Directive 98/34/EC. Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, errors may occur in the information from time to time because of unavoidable difficulties caused by technical difficulties. In all such instances, we assume no responsibility for any damages or losses that may be suffered by any party as a consequence of such inaccurate information or misprints.

 

** Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations.”

 

The notifications contains a lot of more interesting aspect, which I will examine as soon as possible in a new post. I encourage all of us to leave comments and observations on the notifications.