Drinks containing more than 150mg of caffeine per litre (mg/l) must be labelled with the term 'high caffeine content' in the same field of vision as the name of the food, which must be accompanied by an indication of the amount of caffeine per 100ml in the product. No other labelling is currently required by law and this labelling does not apply to drinks such as tea and coffee.
New labelling legislation, (The Food Information Regulation (EU) 1169/2011) which will apply from 13 December 2014, will require additional caffeine labelling for high caffeine drinks and foods where caffeine is added for a physiological effect. The requirements are listed below:
Beverages, with the exception of those based on coffee, tea or coffee or tea extract where the name of the food includes the term ‘coffee’ or ‘tea’, which:
- are intended for consumption without modification and contain caffeine, from whatever source, in a proportion in excess of 150mg/l,
- are in concentrated or dried form and after reconstitution contain caffeine, from whatever source, in a proportion in excess of 150mg/l,
must be labelled with the statement ‘High caffeine content. Not recommended for children or pregnant or breast-feeding women’ in the same field of vision as the name of the beverage, followed by a reference in brackets to the caffeine content expressed in mg per 100ml.
Foods (other than beverages) where caffeine is added for a physiological purpose must be labelled with the statement ‘Contains caffeine. Not recommended for children or pregnant women’ in the same field of vision as the name of the food followed by the amount of caffeine in mg per 100g or ml. This additional labelling will also apply to food supplements containing caffeine: For these the legislation will require the amount of caffeine to be expressed per portion as recommended for daily consumption.
These rules above do not apply to foods (including drinks) where caffeine is added for a flavouring rather than physiological purpose. For these products the term caffeine must appear after the word ‘flavouring(s)’ in the ingredients list.
New controls on the use of flavouring substances will apply from October 2014 (Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 872/2012). Caffeine added to a food for flavouring purposes (rather than for a physiological purpose) will have to comply with the flavouring legislation, which will limit the use to particular foods with associated maximum levels.