EU adopts Food Information Regulation

By Anne Bruce

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food information regulation, European union

EU adopts Food Information Regulation
The long-awaited new EU Food Information Regulation (FIR) has moved one step closer to coming into force, after the European Council adopted it today.

The Regulation sets down labelling requirements in a bid to simplify and streamline rules, covering areas including allergens, nano-ingredients and imitation foods - for example, ‘cheese’ produced from vegetable oils.

It also covers the presentation of nutrition declarations on packs and legibility.

The FIR makes country of origin information compulsory on the packaging of pork, mutton, goat meat and poultry meat, as well as products already covered such as beef, veal, honey, fruit and olive oil.

The regulation will now be published in the EU's Official Journal​. It will then come into force on the 20th day following its publication. But producers will have a three-year transitional period to adopt it.

Mandatory nutrition

The mandatory nutrition declaration will have to be implemented within a five-year period after the regulation comes into force.

Industry body FoodDrinkEurope called on the Commission to ensure it consults with those affected by changes such as country of origin labelling, to ensure a workable final outcome.

President Jesús Serafín Pérez said: "FoodDrinkEurope looks forward to working with EU decision-makers to ensure the Regulation is implemented in the coming years, providing consumers with the information needed to make the right choices and promoting the industry's competitiveness​."

The whole process of updating the FIR has taken eight years. It looked in danger of collapse in May this year following disagreements between the EU Council, Parliament and Commission.

Country of Origin labelling was a major bone of contention.

Alcoholic beverages

Alcoholic beverages will be temporarily excluded from the regulation. That exception will be reviewed in three years.

Also, the regulation will not apply to very small food packages of less than 22 cm2. But the name, allergens, net quantity and date by which the product must be consumed must always be displayed on the package, irrespective of its size.

Meanwhile in July, one consultant told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the label changes would prove costly for UK food manufacturers.

Stuart Shotton, consultancy services director at advisor FoodChain Europe, estimated the price for changed packaging at about £7,000 per product, in addition to training costs for staff.

Related topics: Legal, Packaging equipment

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