Uniform food labelling to be introduced by the EU

Dr Anton John Mifsud | Published on 13 Jul 2011

Chetcuti Cauchi Lawyers
The European Parliament has very recently approved the enactment of a new food labelling regime which is expected to be applicable as from 2014. This new legal package shall present an obligation to give more information to consumers about the nutritional aspects of packaged food products, including the origin of all type of meat.

Perhaps the most important change will be that relating to the introduction of mandatory nutritional values. The labelling must, among others, include information on the energy content and amounts of fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and salt. This needs to be spelt out in a legible tabular form and be expressed per 100g or per 100ml or per portion. In the case of allergenic substances these will have to be highlighted in the ingredients list. Interestingly, information on allergens must also be displayed for non-packaged foods, for example on food sold in restaurants or canteens.
Under current laws, producers were only obliged to state the origin of beef, as opposed to meat products in general. On the other hand, the rules will not be limited to meat products, but shall extend to other types of food including honey, olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables. In the future, such rules might also be rendered applicable to other categories such as in instances where meat is used as an ingredient, milk or unprocessed foods. This will naturally have to be preceded by various impact assessments to weigh up the feasibility and potential costs of the extension of the rules.
According to Maltese Commissioner Mr John Dalli, these changes have been welcome by consumer groups, even though they have expressed disappointment at the fact that alcohol is excluded from the remit of the new regime, something that might change in the future.

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