EU FIC regulations on food labelling

Changes to food labelling have now been in place since December 2014. They help provide allergen ingredients information in a clearer and more consistent way. For example, any of the 14 allergens that are on the regulatory list are to be emphasised on the label of a pre-packaged food if they are used as ingredients.

Good news for consumers

It’s good news for consumers, as these changes mean that allergen ingredients information is provided in a clearer and more consistent way – making it easier to make safer food choices when buying food or eating out.

Although this new law went live in December 2014, some products (such as tinned or dried food) which have a long shelf-life, will not have changed over yet; which means you could see both types of labelling being used on these types of products for a couple of years more. Which is why it is important to always read the label.

 

What does the new legislation bring?

This piece of European legislation is called the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC). It came into force on 13 December 2014 and changes the way allergen information appears on labels and on food that is prepacked, sold loose or served when you are eating outside of the home. The EU FIC brings general and nutrition labelling together into a single regulation to simplify and consolidate existing labelling legislation.

What are the changes?

The changes are:

  • Any of the 14 allergens that are on the regulatory list is to be emphasised on the label, if they are used as ingredients in a pre-packaged food. Businesses can choose what method they want to use to emphasise these allergens, for example, by listing them in bold, italics, highlighted or underlined, to help identify them.
  • Information about allergenic ingredients is to be located in a single place, i.e. the ingredients list on prepacked food. This means that the voluntary use of the previous types of allergy boxes (such as: ‘Contains nuts’) that provide a short cut to allergen ingredients information also given in the ingredients list, is no longer allowed. The use of voluntary precautionary allergen labelling such as ‘may contain’, to indicate the risk of unintentional presence of allergens in a food, is still permitted and has not been affected by this regulation.
  • Previously, loose foods (that can be bought without packaging) for example in supermarkets, delis, cafes and restaurants; didn’t have to provide information you need about food allergens. However, since 13 December 2014, information on any of the 14 allergens used as ingredients should be provided for these foods.

 

What are the 14 allergens on the regulatory list?

The 14 allergens are:

  • eggs
  • milk
  • fish
  • crustaceans (for example crab, lobster, crayfish, shrimp, prawn)
  • molluscs (for example mussels, oysters, squid)
  • peanuts
  • tree nuts (namely almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, brazils, pistachios, macadamia nuts or Queensland nuts)
  • sesame seeds
  • cereals containing gluten (namely wheat (such as spelt, Khorasan wheat/Kamut), rye, barley, oats, or their hybridised strains).
  • soya
  • celery and celeriac
  • mustard
  • lupin
  • sulphur dioxide and sulphites (at concentration of more than ten parts per million)

Remember, if you are allergic to a food and are in any doubt, speak to a member of staff.

For more information, please read our consumer advice on food allergen labelling.

 

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