Mandatory Food Information
Article 9 sets out the starting point for determining the labelling information that must be provided in some form for most prepacked foods.
Let’s go through the "mandatory particulars" listed in Article 9 in details. The main novelties are highlighted in italics with more details.
1. The name of food
As it is already foreseen in the current legislation, the name of the food shall include or be accompanied by particulars as to the physical condition of the food or the specific treatment it has undergone (for example, powdered, refrozen, freeze-dried, quick-frozen, concentrated, smoked) in all cases where omission of such information could mislead the purchaser. (Annex VI, Part A).
The main changes in this area are:
- ‘Defrosted’, in the case of food frozen before sale and sold defrosted, the name of such product shall include the designation “defrosted” (Annex VI, Part A, Point 2);
- Ingredient used for substitution, where consumers expect the product to contain a certain ingredient and this has been partially or wholly substituted. (Annex VI, Part A, Point 4);
- Formed meat and formed fish (Annex VI, Part A, Point 7);
- Designation of minced meat (e.g. % fat content) (Annex VI, Part B).
2. The list of ingredient
3. The list of allergens
- Caffeine contents. Drinks with high caffeine contents will have to be additionally labelled as not recommended for children or pregnant and breastfeeding women, with the actual caffeine content quoted (Annex III);
- Added water. Meat and fish products that look like a cut, joint or slice and contain more than 5% added water will have to show this in the name of the food (Annex VI);
- Oil and fats of vegetable origin. The provision of these ingredients on label must be followed by the indication of the specific nature of the concerned oils and fats (Annex VII, part A): may be grouped together in the list of ingredients under the designation ‘vegetable oils (fats)’ followed immediately by a list of indications of specific vegetable origin, and may be followed by the phrase ‘in varying proportions’;
- Nano-materials. One main novelty of this Regulation is the provision of the definition of engineered nanomaterial and the establishment of specific labeling requirements for nano-food ingredients. Ingredients present in the form of engineered nano-materials must be indicated in the list of ingredients followed by the word ‘nano’ in brackets. (Art.18).
The new regulation requires to clearly distinguish allergens from the rest of the list of ingredients, by highlighting the allergen in the ingredients list. The name of the allergen must appear next to the name of the ingredient. Furthermore, if several ingredients or processing aids used in the food originate from a substance causing allergies or intolerance, this must be stated on the label. (Art. 21.1-Annex II).
4. The quantity of certain ingredients or categories of ingredients, QUID. (Art. 22)
This has remained unchanged.
5. The net quantity of the food (Art. 23)
This has almost remained unchanged from Directive No 2000/13/EC apart from the point 5 of Annex IX: "where the food has been glazed, the declared net weight of the food shall be exclusive of the glaze.
6. The date of minimum durability or the use by date (Art. 24)
Annex X sets out rules for the indication of the date of minimum durability, use-by date and date of freezing. Under the new rules, the date of first freezing preceded by the words “frozen on” is also required on labels of unprocessed frozen meat and fishery products.
The “use by” date must be indicated on each individual pre-packed portion (Annex X, Point 2) and no longer on the packaging containing the single packs.
Moreover, in the list of products of Annex X which are exempt from the requirement to indicate minimum durability date or ‘use by’ date, with Regulation 1169/2011 two categories are no longer exempt:
- soft drinks, fruit juices, fruit nectars and alcoholic beverages in individual containers of more than five litres, intended for supply to mass caterers;
- individual portions of ice-cream.
7. Any special storage conditions and/or conditions of use (Art. 25)
This has remained unchanged.
8. The name or business name and address of the food business operator referred to in Art. 8
Regulation 1169/2011 clarifies that the food business operator responsible for compliance with the food labeling rules is the operator under whose name or business the food is marketed, or if established outside the EU, the importer into the EU market. As the Regulation applies to food business operators at all stages of the food chain, they shall not supply food which they know or presume not to be in compliance with the food labeling requirements. In addition, food business operators will be responsible for any changes they make to food information accompanying a food.
9. The country of origin or place of provenance where provided for in Art. 26
Under the current EU laws established by Directive 2000/13/EC, it is mandatory to provide country of origin for fresh beef and beef products, honey, fruit, vegetables, fish, and olive oil and whenever its absence is likely to mislead consumers as to the relevant product’s true country of origin. Regulation 1169/2011 extends the mandatory country of origin labeling to meat listed in Annex XI (swine, sheep and goat, poultry) and when the country of origin of a food is not the same as its primary ingredient.
Furthermore the European Commission will have two or three years to carry out feasibility study on providing the mandatory indication of the country of origin or place of provenance for the following foods:
- other type of meats other than the above;
- to milk;
- milk used as an ingredient in dairy products;nprocessed foods;
- single ingredient products;
- ingredients that represent more than 50% of a food.
10. Instructions for use where it would be difficult to make appropriate use of the food in the absence of such instructions (Art. 27)
This has remained unchanged.
11. With respect to beverages containing more than 1,2 % by volume of alcohol, the actual alcoholic strength by volume (Art. 28)
Since they are subject to a specific EU Regime, alcoholic beverages (≥1,2 % Vol.) are exempted from the information requirements concerning nutrition information and the ingredients list except for allergens (Art.16.4). However for the deadline of December 2014, the commission will produce a report addressing “whether alcoholic beverages should in future be covered, in particular, by requirement to provide the information on the energy value”.
12. A nutrition declaration. (Art. 29-35)
According to Regulation 1169/2011, nutrition labeling will become mandatory. Therefore, information on the energy content as well as amounts of fat, saturates fat, carbohydrates, sugar, protein and salt (not sodium), expressed per 100 grams or per 100 milliliters, must be stated in the same field of vision on food labels. Before, this requirement was voluntary unless a nutrition-related claim is made on the label or in advertising messages.
The nutrition declaration may additionally be given on a per portion basis, especially when the food is pre-packed in individual portions or consumption units, and expressed as a percentage of daily reference intakes set out in Part B of Annex XIII.
When the four nutrients (fat, saturates, sugar and salt) are repeated together with the energy value, their amounts can be expressed per portion alone. In this case, the energy value must be expressed both per portion and per 100 g/ml.
The mandatory nutrition declaration can be supplemented voluntarily with the values of other nutrients, i.e. mono-unsaturates, polyunsaturates, polyols, starch, fiber, vitamins or minerals listed in Annex XIII.
By 13 December 2014 the European Commission should provide a report and potentially a legislative proposal on the presence of trans fats in foods and in overall diets across the EU. The report will consider the provision of information to consumers on trans fats and potential restrictions on their use.
However Regulation 1169/2011 does not provide any provision for the labeling of cholesterol.
The nutrition declaration must be presented, if space permits, in tabular format with the numbers aligned or, where space does not permit, in linear format on the packing and in the same field of vision. An exemption from the requirement to provide the mandatory nutrition declaration applies to foods in small packaging.
Application of legibility rules to the nutrition declaration. The new regulation aims at ensuring that mandatory nutrition declaration is provided in a clear and legible way. For that purpose it establishes that the minimum font size that may be used on food labels is 1,2 mm for the x-height and 0,9 mm for containers with an area less than 80 cm.²
Finally, in regard to distance Selling (one of the novelties of Regulation 1169/2011), it is required the mandatory food information (Art. 9 except point f) before the purchase is concluded and it should appear on the material supporting the distance selling or be provided through other appropriate means clearly identified by the food business operator. (Art.14).
- EU Regulation 1169/2011
- Guidance document for competent authorities, tolerances for the control of compliance of nutrient values declared on a label with EU legislation
- Questions and Answers on the application of the Regulation (EU) N° 1169/2011
- European Commission Website
- Selerant Article: "Are you ready for food labeling legislation changes in the EU?"