The Food Information Regulation (FIR) was designed to make food labelling easier to understand for consumers, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA). But the Chilled Foods Association (CFA) highlighted the costs involved.
Kaarin Goodburn, secretary general of the Chilled Food Association, told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the new regulations were “bad news for the whole food manufacturing industry”.
Goodburn added: “Manufacturers will now have to rethink the packaging of all products on sale. For our membership alone, the expenses could extend into seven figures.”
The FIR, published by the European Union, requires manufacturers to print mandatory information on all food and drink products sold within the EU. That information must include a product’s nutritional value, its origin, and its allergy information.
The new labelling rules will become mandatory, for all values except nutrition, from 2014. The rules for nutrition will be enforced from 2016.
Goodburn predicted that the manufacturers of small-scale food and drink products would be hardest hit. “Smaller packaged products will be hit the hardest. The regulations require more information on a product's labelling, so smaller items may have to be repackaged, incurring further expenses for food and drink firms,” she said.
The new rules include:
- Country of origin. The introduction of mandatory origin information for most fresh and frozen meat. (Also, the origin of main ingredients will have to be given if different from where the final product is made).
- Nutrition labelling for most foods. Simplified information may be provided voluntarily on front of pack.
- Labelling clarity. A minimum print size has been set for all mandatory information on most food labels.
- Allergen information will have to be provided on all food.
- Drinks with high caffeine content will have to be labelled as not recommended for children, or pregnant and breastfeeding women. The caffeine content must be quoted.
- Meat and fish products that look like a cut, joint or slice and contain more than 5% added water will have to show this in the name of the food.
- The types of vegetable oil used in food, such as palm oil, must be stated.
Meanwhile in July, Stuart Shotton, consultancy services director at advisor FoodChain Europe, estimated that the cost of complying with FIR, for modified packaging alone, would reach about £7,000 per product.
Food and drink manufacturers would face additional costs in the form of staff training, he added.