Food Information Regulation

The EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on the 25 October 2011.

The Food Information Regulations 2014 came into force on the 14th July 2014 and enables local authorities to enforce the European Food Information to Consumers Regulation No 1169/2011 (FIC). Under these regulations, a change to the existing enforcement regime has been taken forward with a move away from the across-the-board use of frontline criminal offences to a more proportionate and targeted regime using improvement notices. A backstop criminal offence will be in place where there is failure to comply with an improvement notice, with an offender being liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 5. Criminal offences will continue for the contravention of certain provisions, namely mislabelling of foods containing allergens because a failure to comply with the allergen provisions may result in a risk to consumer health and safety.

The regulations also revoke the majority of the provisions of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996. The compositional standards for cream and traditional UK cheeses will be retained until 2018 as will certain alcohol related terms including ‘low alcohol’, ‘dealcoholised’ etc.

The regulations take up certain derogations and national flexibilities permitted by the FIC namely:

• Derogation from the need to give mandatory information for milk and milk products in glass bottles intended for reuse. Taking up this derogation maintains the current exemption.
• Derogation from minced meat composition standards on fat and collagen to meat protein ratios in the FIC. Taking up this derogation allows businesses to continue to supply the UK market with traditional minced meat provided it is sold under a national mark.
• To retain the requirement for the name of the food to be given for foods sold non-prepacked.
• To retain the requirement for a quantitative indication of the meat content for meat products sold non-prepacked.
• To introduce the specific means by which allergen information provided on a mandatory basis for non-prepacked food has to be given.
• Update other food labelling and standards legislation to reflect the FIC Regulation and the introduction of the Food Information Regulations 2014.

Separate but similar regulations have also been made in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Government responsibilities in the UK

The responsibility for the Food Information for Consumers Regulations (FIR) varies across the UK.

Following the Westminster Machinery of Government changes carried out in 2010, general food labelling policy responsibilities (where this is not related to food safety) in England have been transferred from the FSA to Defra. Responsibility for nutrition labelling policy has been transferred to the Department of Health.

England
In England, the FSA leads on food safety aspects of food labelling and continues its liaison with food authorities in relation to food labelling law enforcement.

Contact details:
Food Standards enforcement
tel: 020 7276 8370
email: standards.support@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk

Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, the FSA has retained responsibility for all aspects of general food labelling and nutrition labelling policy, including liaison with food authorities.

Northern Ireland contact details:
tel: 028 9041 7700
email: infofsani@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk

Wales
In Wales, the FSA continues to lead on general food labelling policy and food labelling law enforcement, although responsibility for nutrition labelling policy is now with the Welsh Government.

Contact details:
tel: 02920 678912
email: kerys.james-palmer@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk

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