Important Changes for Food Labeling Requirements in European Union

Posted on by David Golding

800px-Flag_of_Europe.svg[1]Important Information: EU Food Labeling Regulations

There are several new changes to food labeling requirements in the European Union, and we’ve compiled information to make you aware of them, and more importantly, to help you comply with them – whether you are based in Europe, or exporting to a European country.

There are three things customers generally look for when they’re purchasing food: quality, safety, and security. You have the quality aspect down pat, but the safety and security part is receiving some changes that are crucial to be aware of.

Quick Overview of New EU Food Label Regulation

The new EU Regulation 1169/2011 is making some important changes on legislation for requirements about information on food labels such as origin information/provenance of animals for meats, allergen information, and more specific fat to collagen ratios for minced meats to consumers.

Allergy Amendments

Legislation ensuring that allergy information is overtly displayed on all food labels will come into effect on December 13, 2014. This upcoming legislative change states that separate allergy boxes are no longer allowed.

Example of what is now NOT allowed
Example of what is now NOT allowed

That is, a separate area for only allergy contents will be prohibited, and in its stead, those contents will be contained in the ingredients list either in bold, highlighted, or printed in a contrasting color.

Country of Origin Meat Labeling/Provenance Labeling Amendments

One extremely important amendment that was implemented recently (on December 13, 2013) regards the “mandatory origin labeling of unprocessed meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry,” according to official European Commission (EC) website. Another small, yet important amendment, implemented on January 1, 2014, outlines requirements concerning the designation of “minced meat.”

The minced meat requirements dictate that both the percentage of fat must appear on the label, as well as the collagen to meat ratio. Exact numbers can be found on Annex VI, Part B of the full regulation description.

How to Make EU Allergy Labels

The part of these new EU food labeling regulations that applies to the majority of food producers is the fact that you will have to clearly present allergen information on your label if your product has any of the 14 recognized allergens.

You must highlight each allergen so that it catches the eye of a consumer.

It is up to the food producer to determine how to highlight the presence of an allergen on the food label ingredients list, but options are likely to include the use of text in a contrasting color and boldface type.

There are also minimum font sizes and phrases that should be used. The 14 food allergens recognized by the EU are as follows:

  • Cereals containing gluten
  • Celery
  • Crustaceans
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Lupin (plant in the legume family)
  • Milk
  • Mollusks
  • Mustard
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sulphur dioxide and sulphites

Some common phrases used to denote that there may be allergens in the food through cross-contamination include but are not limited to “may contain x” or “made on equipment that also processes x.”

"New" box as example of what is REQUIRED
“New” box as example of what is REQUIRED

All of these regulations call for changes in labels that could be expensive if your business does not make use of in-house label printing that can be easily tailored to specific needs.

More about Country of Origin Meat Labeling in the EU

Prior to the implementation of these regulations, country of origin labeling was only required for certain food types. It needed to be present on food types such as honey, fruit and vegetables, fish, beef and beef products, olive oil, wine, eggs, imported poultry, and spirits.

However, the official document COM(2013) 755, section 4, references the Food Chain Evaluation Consortium (FCEC) study, which found that 48% of meat consumers in the EU say that meat origin is of fifth most importance when deciding what to purchase.

This prompted the European Parliament and Council to extend the mandate to all unprocessed pig, poultry, sheep, and goat meat. Also, it is now required that minced meat display on its packaging the percentage of fat content and the collagen/meat ratio.

What the European Commission (EC) calls “cumulative traceability” is a new requirement as of December 13, 2013. It states that food manufacturers must list on their label the country of birth of their meat, the country in which it was raised, the country of slaughter, and country in which it was processed.

The EC had to revamp the regulations about the way animal information was passed along from various suppliers so that there could be an established database containing the detailed history of each animal, therefore making it easier for you all to comply with these new country of origin labeling laws.

EU Food Labeling Compliance Made Easy with the Kiaro! label printer

A significant change that you may have to make to your existing label format is the removal of an “allergy box.”

This means that content of allergens in your food product cannot be isolated in its own area on the label; rather it must be listed in bold, highlighted, underlined, or in colored text as part of the normal ingredient list.

The Kiaro! color label printer allows you to easily add color to specific text so that you are able to comply with the new regulations, satisfy your customers with easily seen allergen information, and even boost sales by enhancing your product aesthetically.

The Kiaro! label printer is the most efficient way to make changes to your labels.

Printing in-house provides many benefits such as the ability to manage every aspect of the printing process and make changes as needed without waste or downtime. You are able to print labels in any batch size, small to large, or for any product type; seasonal to flagship!

Take O&H Bakery in Racine, Wisconsin for example. They utilize the Kiaro! digital label printer for all of their seasonally available baked goods, and they save money because they can print labels, any time. It’s all tailored directly to the supply and demand of a product, thereby ensuring no money is wasted on big-batch label productions.

Kiaro! in action
Kiaro! digital color label printer for O&H Bakery

You can even print your labels in captivating 1200 dpi, making for crisp, clear color on your labels that adds appeal to your packaging, and catch the eyes of new customers!
This color option is perfect for complying with the new requirement to add allergy information, which can require contrasting colors, because label edits can be easily made through labeling software, such as NiceLabel, that works seamlessly with the Kiaro!.

Easy software compatibility allows for templates to be created so you can automatically add information to labels, without having to constantly recreate fields for entering origin and allergen information.

Where Can I Learn More about EU Food Labeling Requirements?

If you are so inclined, you are able to access more information about these new regulations on the official EC page. Also, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) of the UK has a page with useful information about the allergen labeling aspect in the EU.

 

 

 

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