Provision of food information to consumer
On 30 January 2008, the Commission published a proposal for a Regulation on the provision of Food Information to Consumers.
This proposal is intended to repeal and replace Directives 2000/13 on general food labelling and Directive 90/496 on nutrition labelling. It essentially retains all the provisions already included in these two Directives and proposes additional requirements, including mandatory nutrition labelling.
The relevant element of discussions where AIJN is closely involved, include:
- The nutrition labelling
- The legibility and font size
- The COOL (Country Of Origin Labelling)
The new Regulation has been published on 25 October 2011. There are appropriate transition periods for all businesses – from 3 to 5 years after the publication of the Regulation (depending on the final outcome of the political agreement between the European institutions).
Mandatory nutrition declaration: prepacked food must in future be labelled with the energy value and the quantities of fat, saturates, carbohydrates, protein, sugars and salt. As a general principle, the energy value and the amounts of these nutrients (which together form the “mandatory nutrition declaration”) will have to be expressed per 100g or per 100ml, but can additionally be indicated on a per portion basis. When the four nutrients are repeated 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 100g/ml.
Furthermore, they can also be indicated as a percentage of reference intakes, better known as GDA (Guidelines Daily Amounts). The mandatory nutrition declaration can be supplemented voluntarily with the values of other nutrients (mono-unsaturates; polyunsaturates; polyols; starch; fibre; vitamins or minerals) and must be presented in tabular format or, where space does not permit, in linear format.
Food operators may indicate the energy value and the amounts of the nutrients additionally by other forms of expression (e.g. graphics or symbols, such as the traffic light system) as long as they comply with certain criteria (e.g. they are understandable for the consumers and do not create obstacles to the free movement of goods). The energy value may be repeated in the principal field of vision alone or together with the amounts of fat, saturates, sugars and salt.
All elements of the nutrition declaration should appear together in the same field of vision but some of them may be repeated on the “front of pack”.
Labelling: the Regulation requires labelling to be clear and legible. In order to improve legibility, it establishes a minimum font size for the mandatory information of 1.2 mm for the x-height.
Country of origin: The Commission must examine within three years after the entry into force of the new Regulation the possible extension of the compulsory labelling of the country to single-ingredient products and ingredients that represent more than 50% of a food.
- Discussion in the European Parliament
- Discussion in the European Council
- Interpretation of the new Regulation