Food and drink manufacturers are making changes to their labels in response to new European rules which come into effect from tomorrow (December 13).
Customers who have been calling for changes to food packaging will be pleased with new wide-ranging changes to the layout and information contained within labels. The new packaging is hoped to simplify and harmonise some of the information available on-pack and help consumers to make the most of the information available.
The top five changes to packaged food and drink labels to look out for include allergens, which will now be emphasised in the ingredients list; statements such as ‘Contains: milk, nuts’ are no longer permitted on-pack,though precautionary labelling such as ‘May contain: milk, nuts’ will still be used.
A minimum font size has been set for mandatory information to increase legibility. Nutrition information is now a mandatory requirement and will usually be provided on the ‘back of pack’. The nutrient content will always be shown per 100g. ‘Front of pack’ labelling remains voluntary and there are new requirements to increase consistency and aid usage.
The specific types of vegetable oils that are contained within a food or drink will now appear in the ingredients list.
And from April 2015, labels will show the origin of unprocessed pig, sheep, goat and poultry meat on-pack following an extension of country of origin labelling.
The EU Food Information to Consumers (EU FIC) Regulation was published in the EU Official Journal in 2011;since then, food and drink producers have been updating labelling across their product ranges, working to the main implementation deadline of December 13.
The EU law on food labelling used to allow manufacturers to choose to label oils under the generic name ‘vegetable oil’, with no reference to its specific composition. Under the new rules the label will have to identify the specific types of vegetable oils that have been used.
Barbara Gallani, director of regulation, science & health at the Food and Drink Federation commented: “Food and drink labelling helps make informed purchasing decisions by enabling individuals to check, compare and choose between similar products. Consumers have long had access to considerable product information on-pack, including nutrition information which has been voluntarily provided by UK food and drink producers for nearly a decade.
“With its wide-ranging changes, the EU FIC has introduced the biggest change to on-pack labelling for the modern food industry and FDF members have been working to make sure that their product labels are compliant ahead of tomorrow’s deadline. To help shoppers make the most of these changes and use them with confidence, for its part the UK food industry has updated and re-launched its popular, consumer-friendly labelling website. This resource builds on FDF’s free food labelling toolkit for health professionals and the efforts of individual companies.”