After 30 years of consolidation and amendment, the EU is implementing the first major revision of its food labelling rules for a generation, EU Regulation 1169/2011 will apply to all food products from 13 December 2014.

EU Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, came into effect in 2011 and by the end of this year, must be applied to all food products sold within the EU (with just two exceptions). It replaces two EC Directives: 2000/13/EC, and 90/496/EEC, modernises the legislation and takes account of new developments in food testing and information.

Current rules aim to ensure that food labelling is not misleading. Regulation 1169/2011 builds on that objective and takes into account the different ways consumers now interact with products and gather information. The new legislation refers to food information, rather than food labelling. It states that food information means:

“Information concerning a food and made available to the final consumer by means of a label, other accompanying material, or any other means including modern technology tools or verbal communication.”

New Labelling In Brief

Food business operators need to ensure that all food products comply with the following requirements:

  • Mandatory nutritional information on processed foods
  • Mandatory origin labelling of unprocessed meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry
  • Highlighting of allergens in the list of ingredients
  • Better legibility (minimum text sizes)
  • Allergen information available for all non-pre-packed foods, including those sold in restaurants and cafes

Which Products Are Included?

The new legislation applies to all food products delivered to the final consumer including those produced and served by catering companies, as well as those marketed on the basis of distance (internet) selling. Under the new legislation non-pre-packed foods must carry a label statement of allergens.

Food business operators involved in distance selling must ensure that before the final product is purchased they have all the information required by Regulation 1169/2011 available for the final consumer.

Additional Labelling Requirements

Food information must also be provided for:

  • Engineered nanomaterials
  • Plant origin of vegetable fats and oils
  • A statement with regard to whether the product has been defrosted
  • Date of freezing, for frozen meats and fish
  • Added water, in meat and fish products
  • Formed meat or fish items
  • Substitute ingredients, for commonly used ingredients

Nutritional Statement Exemptions

Though mandatory under Regulation 1169/2011, with effect from 13 December 2016, there are a small number of exemptions to the nutritional statement requirements (Articles 16(4) and 44(1)(b), Annex V).

Who Is Responsible?

Food business operators bear the brunt of responsibility for ensuring that all the food information is available and appropriately presented on products. Under the new Regulation, this means the operator whose name or business name, the food is marketed under, or, in the event that they are not established in the EU, the product importer.

Mandatory Labelling Information

EU Regulation 1169/2011 requires food and food products to be labelled with at least the following elements:

  • The name of the food
  • A list of its ingredients
  • Any ingredient or processing aid listed in Annex II, or derived from a substance or product listed in Annex II causing allergies or intolerances used in the manufacture or preparation of a food and still present in the finished product, even if in an altered form
  • The quantity of certain ingredients or categories of ingredients
  • The net quantity of the food
  • The date of minimum durability, or ‘use by’ date
  • Any special storage conditions and/or conditions of use
  • The name or business name, and address of the food business operator
  • The country or origin, or place of provenance
  • Instructions for use, where it would be difficult to make appropriate use of the food otherwise
  • Where a beverage contains more than 1.2% by volume of alcohol, the actual alcoholic strength by volume
  • Nutritional declaration (with effect from 13 December 2016)

For further information please visit the SGS Food Safety website or contact:

Ron Wacker, PhD
Global Food Testing Business Development Manager
SGS Germany
t: +49 40 301 012 65

Alexandra Dedeilia
Agricultural Services & Consumer Testing Services Business Manager
SGS Greece
t: +30 210 5720777 (ext 116)