What the new Food Information Regulation means to food businesses – December deadline

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What the new Food Information Regulation means to food businesses – December deadline

The food industry is constantly faced with changes in rules that govern how they produce and market food safely. Back in 2011, the European Commission published a new Regulation called ‘Food Information to Consumers’ which aimed to update and amalgamate rules that had been in existence since 1979, on food labelling.

This new Regulation came into effect on 13th December 2014 and it meant a number of changes to the way in which food businesses had been labelling their foods. As its name suggests, the rules in the regulation are to provide more information to consumers, about the food they buy.

We are all consumers and whether it is to purchase the groceries to feed us for the week or whether we visit artisan food stalls and food markets at the weekend, we are entitled to be given all of the necessary information to allow us to choose our food carefully.

Some of the key changes with these new rules include the requirement to clearly distinguish food allergens contained in pre-packed foods and also now to display written information about allergens contained in loose foods. This is a new venture and one that provides its own challenges to the food business.

  • How should allergen information be declared by a food business?
  • What allergens must be declared?
  • What happens when recipes change at the last minute?

are all questions that cause concern.

In terms of the origin of pre-packed food, up to the introduction of these rules, the main origin requirements in legislation was to provide the origin of beef, thanks to the BSE crisis back in the 90s. The new food information regulation has extended the requirement to declare the origin of meat from goat, chicken, lamb and pigs. It will also result in the requirement to declare the origin of meat contained in a composite food, so we can look forward to more new rules.

The last key area that will bring about change for the food industry is the requirement to label a nutrition declaration on a product. Prior to this new regulation, nutrition information was only required on pre-packed foods where a nutrition or health claim was made on the label. From this December 13th (2016) almost all food labels regardless of claims, will be required to provide a nutrition declaration. As with all good legislation, however, there are a number of exemptions to this requirement but this is quite specific.

Food businesses need to be aware of their obligations to meet the December 2016 deadline as any food packed after that date that is not declaring the nutrition information, will be considered in breach of the legislation.

Learn more about Food Allergens on our one day training course

Blog submitted by our Food Safety tutor, Ciaron White

Food Safety Tutor, Ciaron White

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