Food labelling is one of the latest areas of law to come under a wave of reform from the EU. As of 13 December 2014, foods across the EU must all meet the same labelling requirements as the EU’s objective of harmonising member states legislation takes another step forward.
The changes to the way foods are marketed will be introduced through the Food Information to Consumers Regulation and will apply identical labelling standards across each EU member state. Whilst many of the new requirements reflect current UK law already, some important advances will still be made in this field. These include:
• A requirement to label if a food has been frozen/refrozen at any point.
• Reforms to the way allergy information is displayed.
• Mandatory information that must appear on all packaging.
• Minimum font size for the mandatory information.
The domestic regulations aimed at enforcing these new laws have not yet been codified, but draft proposals have hinted at a modern approach to enforcement. Only one offence will be created, with respect to allergy information provisions, and other matters will follow an Improvement Notice scheme, notifying businesses of their failure to comply with the current law.
Despite the reasonable time frame in which these new regulations must be implemented, questions marks have been raised as to the efficiency of such a change and whether food manufacturers may struggle as a result. Finding space on current packaging to introduce even more information, for instance, could not only prove difficult for manufacturers to implement but could also alienate consumers.
The EU has aimed to dispel these worries however by setting a date of implementation for the end of this year, giving businesses and food manufacturers enough time to construct new packaging and work the changes into normal print run windows; subsequently reducing production costs and minimising waste.
For more information on this area of law and your consumer rights, give us a call on 01536 276300.