In a matter of weeks we will enter a whole new era in food labelling law. The EU Regulation on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers (1169/2011) (FIC) comes into force on 13 December 2014, meaning that for the first time exactly the same mandatory food labelling rules will apply throughout the EU.
FIC will affect all food businesses, including manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and food service establishments (from small canteens and caterers to large chain restaurants and catering on planes, trains and boats). It will bring with it many changes and challenges.
- Check suppliers – Confirm that your suppliers are ready for the changes and will be delivering you a compliant product. You’ll struggle to meet your FIC responsibilities if they don’t meet theirs first.
- Check your contracts – While most agreements will just require suppliers to comply with all relevant laws and regulation, some are more specific or contain defined lists of which legislation applies. Check your contracts and make sure they comply with FIC.
- Book the printer - If you are the manufacturer or brand owner, you are responsible for the presence and accuracy of the food information. Check that existing food labels and your templates for future products reflect the new requirements under FIC. Go to DWF’s interactive food label to see the key changes in practice. If your labels need to be revised, call the printer now. They’ll no doubt be very busy this month.
- Consider your brands - Even if you only sell third party products, you must not supply food that you ‘know or presume’ to be non-compliant and you must be able to ‘verify’ that this requirement is met. Know your brands – little, if indeed any, verification will need to be carried out in relation to products manufactured by large food manufacturers, but you may decide that spot checks on a sample of products from your smaller producers are required.
- Audit allergens - Non-prepacked food must also now provide allergen information. This applies to loose foods sold in a retail setting as well as food supplied in a catering context (including restaurants, staff canteens, even catered meetings in an office environment), so check whether this could affect any sections of your business and consider how your location can provide that information to consumers. Getting allergens right is vital as the implementing national legislation in the UK (the Food Information Regulations 2014) makes it an offence not to comply with the allergen requirements of FIC. For guidance on providing allergen information for non-prepacked foods go to DWF’s interactive food service menu.
- Prepare written allergen records – Allergens on non-prepacked foods can be communicated to consumers orally or in writing, but written records must be kept. Produce a dated written record of the allergen information for each dish you serve, whether in a matrix, ingredients information sheet, recipe file or on the website.
- Train staff - Ensure staff have the most up to date information on allergens when supplying non-prepacked foods and that they understand where to find allergen information to provide to consumers. Provide any staff involved in ‘verification’ of food information with a checklist of the mandatory particulars to look out for.
- Distance sales – Mandatory information must be provided to the customer before the purchase is concluded. Update your website and catalogues so that the requisite mandatory particulars are provided for distance sales.
It is important to remember that products that are already on the market before December can be sold through and do not need to be withdrawn.
To help you prepare, DWF has produced interactive labels showing some of key changes and how the new laws may impact you. As always the devil is in the detail of the Regulations, they need to be reviewed fully to determine how the changes actually impact your product. Find out more ›
If you are not able to get labelling completed by 13 December then we have strategies to assist you with mitigating this risk.