A new EU Regulation on food labelling will amend current food labelling laws in the United Kingdom. EU Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, otherwise known as the Food Information Regulation 2013, will replace the Food Labelling Regulations 1996.
The new Regulation will help to make food labels clearer and also improve nutritional and allergen information to consumers. It will apply to all food intended for the final consumer, including foods delivered by mass caterers, and food intended for supply to mass caterers. Although many provisions will remain unchanged, there are significant changes being introduced that will mean most Food Business Operators will be affected in some way. The changes include:
- mandatory nutrition labelling on pre-packaged food
- more country of origin labelling
- improved date marking (including date of first freezing)
- clarity and legibility of food information
- labelling of non pre-packed foods
- allergen information, including on food sold loose and in restaurants, cafes etc.
It will also introduce improvement notices which can be issued by Trading Standards Officers for failure to comply with some sections of the Regulations. Failure to comply with the improvement notice will be considered a criminal offence.
The Regulation entered in to force on 13 December 2011 and states that the provisions do not have to be applied until the following dates:
- 1 January 2014 – For the rules on the composition and labelling of minced meat
- 13 December 2014 – For the general labelling rules (including allergens), and if provided, a nutrition declaration must use the format set out in Regulations.
- 13 December 2016 – For the rules on mandatory nutrition declaration needed for most pre-packed food.
As a Food Business Operator you can choose to comply earlier if you wish, for example if you are redesigning your labels.
DEFRA have issued a Guide to Compliance [PDF] which provides further useful information.
With reference to the new legislation, The Food Standards Agency has also issued some advice with regards to the labelling of allergens.
This page will be updated as and when further information becomes available.
Trading Standards will provide any trader with assistance regarding a business enquiry. Please visit our business advice page for further details.