Food Labelling

New labelling rules including rules on Allergens came into force in December 2014. These regulations bring together EU rules on general labelling and nutrition into one piece of legislation. The majority of the new requirements (see Key Areas of Regulations below) come into force on 13 December 2014. Nutritional Labelling and Country of of Origin rules come into force on the dates specified below.

Key Areas of the Regulation

  • Allergen information for prepacked foods must be emphasised in a way that distinguishes allergens from other ingredients. For non-prepacked foods (including catering), allergen information must be made available to all consumers.
  • Nutrition labelling will be required for most pre-packed foods from December 2016 and this must be presented in a consistent format.
  • A minimum font size will be introduced for mandatory information. This also extends to voluntary front of pack (FOP) nutrition information.
  • Country of origin information will be required for fresh, chilled and frozen meat of sheep, pigs, goats and poultry from 1 April 2015. Meat already packaged may be sold after this date until stocks are exhausted.
  • Date of freezing (or first freezing where products have been frozen more than once) will be required for frozen meat, frozen meat preparations and frozen unprocessed fishery products sold as such to customers.
  • Added water over 5% must be declared in the name of the food for meat products and meat preparations which have the appearance of a cut, joint, slice, portion or carcass of meat. The same will apply to fishery products which have the appearance of a cut, joint, slice, portion, filet or whole fishery product.

Separate but similar regulations have also been made in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Food Information (Scotland) Regulations 2014 are available online.  

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has produced guidance to provide informal, non-binding advice on the legal requirements of the EU Food Information for Consumers and on Food Information Regulations 2014 for food business operators and enforcement officers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland: http://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/fir-guidance2014.pdf

Allergens - What the new rules will mean for you

If you are a consumer

The new allergen information rules will mean that:

  • you can now ask for information about 14 allergens, if used  as an ingredient in the food you are buying when you eat out.
  • you will see allergenic ingredients emphasised (for example, using bold, italics or colours) on prepacked foods. This means all allergen information will be found on the ingredients list only.

If you are a food business selling loose food or in food service e.g. school canteens, restaurants, cafes, taleaways caterers

You must provide information about 14 allergens, if used as an ingredient in the food you are providing or selling. You can do this on a menu , chalkboard, website.

View or download Allergen guidance for caterers (PDF)

If you are a food business manufacturing prepacked food

You will have to emphasis all allergenic information on the ingredients list eg making these stand out by using bold, italics or colours.

Allergen Information Requirements - Guidance materials and training are available to assist food businesses in implementing and complying with the new allergen rules. These publications aim to generate awareness and improve understanding of the new allergen rules, including advice on safer allergen management practices. The publications are available for download from the FSA website at: http://www.food.gov.uk/business-industry/allergy-guide/allergen-resources#toc-9

Useful External Links to Online Training

General Labelling Guidance

Food Labelling 

An e-learning course will provide you with a general understanding of current food labelling legislation at: http://labellingtraining.food.gov.uk/

Guidance on Nutrition Information Requirements

The Department of Health has published Technical guidance on Nutritional Labelling and a flow chart (PDF) to provide support to businesses on nutrition related requirements of the EU Food Information for Consumers regulation (EU FIC). 

Technical Guidance 

Technical guidance Annex – flow chart (PDF)

European Commission Guidance

European Commission has been prepared to provide guidance to Member States enforcement authorities and food business operators on the tolerances for nutrition labelling purposes. 

European Commission guidance on fibre analysis (PDF) has been prepared to provide guidance to Member States’ enforcement authorities and food business operators on the methods of analysis for determination of the fibre content on a label with respect to the nutrition labelling or declaration. 
 

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