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 The new Regulation replaces the old Directive 2000/13/EU, which is now repealed.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 30 – 2014

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

– Heavy metals: lead in Moringa oleifera food supplement, following an official control on the market. Origin Germany, notified by Germany, distributed also to Austria, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland;

– Allergens: undeclared peanut in thai chicken panang, following an official control on the market. Origin Thailand (via Denmark), notified by Ireland, distributed also to United Kingdom.

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

– Foreign bodies: glass fragments in sliced mushrooms in glass jars, following a consumer complaint. Origin China, notified by Germany;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Campylobacter in fresh mushrooms, following company’s own check. Origin Poland, notified by Denmark.

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

– Allergens: undeclared celery in instant chicken soup, following company’s own check. Origin Norway, notified by Norway, distributed also to Iceland;

– Biotoxins: Staphylococcal enterotoxin in frozen escolar fillets, following a consumer complaint. Origin Ecuador, notified by Germany, distributed also to Austria, Italy and Netherlands;

– Industrial contaminants: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in smoked sprats in vegetable oil, following an official control on the market. Origin Latvia, notified by Poland;

– Mycotoxins: aflatoxins in organic paprika, following an official control on the market. Origin France, notified by Luxembourg;

– Mycotoxins: aflatoxins in roasted peanuts without shell, following an official control on the market. Origin Poland, notified by Slovakia;

– Mycotoxins: Ochratoxin A in dried seedless grapes, following an official control on the market. Origin Turkey (via Austria), notified by Germany.

Amongst border rejections we have cadmium in frozen cooked mussels from Chile, unauthorised genetically modified flour from China, anthraquinone in green tea from China, Salmonella in frozen poultry meat preparation from Thailand, aflatoxins in pistachios from Iran, in pistachio kernels from United States and from Turkey (raw material from Afghanistan), in peanuts from China and United States, in shelled peanuts from Sudan, in blanched groundnut kernels from China and in herb mix from Pakistan, Ochratoxin A in dried raisins from Afghanistan, absence of health certificate(s) for melon seeds from Nigeria, fipronil in fresh coriander from Thailand, too high content of sulphites in dried apricots from Turkey, unauthorised substance dichlorvos in oloyin beans and white beans from Nigeria, carbosulfan and carbofuran in yardlong beans and diafenthiuron in fresh peppers from Dominican Republic.

For feed, we have an alert notification, followed by the destruction of the product:

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella Cerro in dried pig ears, following an official control on the market. Origin France (via Germany), notified by Austria;

and border rejections for unauthorised genetically modified cotton seeds (MON 15985 and possibly MON 531) from Cote d’Ivoire.

For food contact materials we have an alert notification, followed by a recall from consumers:

Migration of primary aromatic amines from plastic spaghetti spoon, following an official control on the market. Origin China (via Spain), notified by France;

and an information for follow up, followed by a recall from consumers:

Heavy metals: migration of chromium from barbecue skewers, following an official control on the market. Origin China (via Germany), notified by Finland.

Related articles