General food labelling requirements

Regulation 1169/2011, The Food Information to Consumer Regulation (FIC) becomes effective from 13/12/2014 and replaces the current Food Labelling Regulations 1996.

The new regulation brings EU rules on general and nutrition labelling together into a single regulation to simplify and consolidate existing labelling legislation. 

Key changes introduced by this regulation include:

  • Country of origin/Place of provenance: origin requirements have been tightened and also extended to fresh and frozen meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry. Seafood is excluded because an origin in required under the Fish Labelling Regulations.
  • Nutrition labelling: 'back of pack' information will become mandatory on the majority of prepacked foods, Single ingredient unprocessed foods are exempt eg fish fillets. 
  • Date marking: depending on the type of food, consumers will continue to see 'best before' and 'use by' dates on pre-packed foods. Where appropriate i.e. for meat and fish, there will also be a date of first freezing shown on food labels. 
  • A minimum font size is introduced for the mandatory information on most food labels.
  • The types of vegetable oil used in food, such as palm oil, must be stated.
  • Allergen information will be extended to non-prepacked foods and catering situations with flexibility in how businesses provide this to consumers. 
  • Added water in fishery products which have the appearance of being made from a whole fillet will need to be shown in the name of the food if it makes up more than 5% of the final product. 
  • More detail is given on mandatory information that must accompany the name of the food. This includes the use of the words 'formed fish' where a product gives the impression of having been made from a whole piece of fish when it is in fact made from pieces.

A guide to compliance can be found on the Defra website here.
  
For supplementary guidance on the labelling of seafood, Seafish have produced these guides

Food Information to Consumers Regulation
Consumer information under the EU Common Organisation of the Markets Regulation 
 
There is also guidance on how to describe fishery products without misleading the consumer in the Code of Practice on the Declaration of Fish Content (prepared by BFFF, BRC, Seafish and others, March 1998).