Draft guidance to EU FIC and FIR 2014

On 12 June 2014, DEFRA issued new draft guidance on the EU provision of food information to consumers Regulation (FIC) and the Food Information Regulations 2014 (FIR). DEFRA indicate that this is to assist food business operators (FBOs) with their preparation for the upcoming food labelling changes and that further guidance will be available in the coming months.

The last substantive guidance on FIC and FIR by DEFRA was issued in November 2012 - with 12 extra pages, DWF consider whether the new Guidance provides the clarity that FBOs have been waiting for... here are a few of the highlights:

Sanctions and Penalties: revised to reflect section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 commencing later in 2014; converting the standard scale maximum fine of £5,000 into an unlimited fine.

Name of Food: confirms not required on the front of pack and provides examples of when protein and the new designation 'defrosted' is not required in the name of the food.

Allergens – Prepacked foods: provides more detailed information and examples as to how to label allergens and confirms 'may contain' declarations for cross-contamination still permitted.

Field of Vision: discusses what this means for box shapes, cylindrical or bottle shaped and multi-packs.

Distance selling: discusses responsibilities and allergen requirements.

Non-prepacked food: provides further information on requirements for name, QUID on meat products and provision of allergen information.

Meat and Fish: provides more detail about the labelling requirements for added water and date of freezing/first freezing.

Save for some additional clarification around dates of first freezing and certain national measures (e.g. relating to non-prepacked foods), there is little to report that FBOs didn't already know, however, it is still good to see that DEFRA have finally started this overdue exercise.

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

Dominic Watkins

Partner - Head of Food Group

I am Head of DWF’s internationally renowned food sector group as well as being Head of Regulatory in London.