EU law on food information to consumers
Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers entered into application on 13 December 2014. The obligation to provide nutrition information applies since 13 December 2016.
This Regulation provides in particular clearer and harmonized presentation of allergens (e.g. soy, nuts, gluten, and lactose) for prepacked foods (emphasis by font, style or background colour) in the list of ingredients and mandatory allergen information for non-prepacked foods, including in restaurants and cafes. It also foresees certain nutrition information for the majority of prepacked processed foods, the mandatory origin information for fresh meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry and the same labelling requirements for online, distance selling or buying in a shop.
The Regulation clarifies the responsibilities of food business operators with respect to food information.
Background information on the adoption of the Regulation and more on the Commission proposal of January 2008 can be found here.
Revision of the Regulation on Food Information to Consumers
On 20 May 2020, the European Commission adopted the Farm to Fork Strategyfor a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system as part of the European Green Deal. The Farm to Fork Strategy sets out that clear information making it easier for consumers to choose healthy and sustainable diets will benefit their health and quality of life, and reduce health-related costs.
The Farm to Fork Strategy announces that the Commission will propose harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling to enable consumers to make informed and health-conscious food choices. The conclusions of the Commission’s report on front-of-pack nutrition labelling ((COM2020) 207 final) can be found here.
The Farm to Fork strategy further announces that the European Commission will set up nutrient profiles to restrict the promotion (via nutrition and health claims) of foods high in e.g. fat, sugars and/or salt. The setting of nutrient profiles will facilitate the shift to healthier diets and stimulate food reformulation.
The European Commission asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to provide scientific advice for the development of harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling and the setting of nutrient profiles for restricting nutrition and health claims on foods:
- EFSA’s scientific advice to inform harmonised front-of-pack labelling and restriction of claims on foods
The European Commission will also consider proposing the extension of mandatory origin or provenance indications to certain products, while fully taking into account the impacts on the single market. This action would allow consumers to better identify the origin of food and facilitate consumers’ informed and sustainable food choices.
A European Commission study published in 2018 concluded that up to 10% of all food waste generated in the EU could be linked to date marking (“best before” and “use by” dates). Therefore, the Farm to Fork Strategy announces that the Commission will revise existing EU rules on date marking to address the misunderstanding and misuse of the “use by” and “best before” dates in particular.
The European Commission adopted the “Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan” on 3 February 2021. The plan announces that the Commission will propose to introduce the mandatory indication of the list of ingredients and the nutrition declaration on labels of all alcoholic beverages.
Against this background, the European Commission is carrying out an impact assessment related to a proposal for a revision of the FIC Regulation in the areas offront-of-pack nutrition labelling, nutrient profiles, origin labelling, date markingand labelling of alcoholic beverages (list of ingredients and nutrition declaration) to follow-up on the announcements made in the Farm-to-Fork Strategy and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan. The impact assessment will evaluate and compare the potential impacts of different policy options to identify a preferred option or policy mix that best addresses the overall objective.
Inception Impact Assessments
On 23 December 2020,the European Commission published an inception impact assessment on front-of-pack nutrition labelling and nutrient profiles, origin labelling and date marking outlining the Commission's initial analysis of the problems, policy objectives and different solutions as well as the likely impacts:
- Food labelling - revision of rules on information provided to consumers
- Facilitating healthier food choices – establishing nutrient profiles
An inception impact assessment informs citizens and stakeholders about the Commission’s plans and allows them to participate effectively in consultation activities by providing early feedback on the intended initiative.
The public consultation on the Commission’s inception impact assessment was open until 4 February 2021 and the feedback can be found here.
Additionally, the European Commission published on 24 June 2021 an inception impact assessment on the labelling of alcoholic beverages (list of ingredients and nutrition declaration) outlining the Commission's initial analysis of the problems, policy objectives and different solutions as well as the likely impacts. The public consultation on the Commission’s inception impact assessment is open from 24 June 2021 until 22 July 2021 and the feedback can be provided here.