Nutrition labelling laws still confusing to some firms

Larger companies are making more progress towards the mandatory provision of nutrition information, as it is revealed that many firms remain confused.

With around four months to go until the main elements of the Food Information to Consumers EU 1169/2011 Regulation (FIC) come in, a report from GSI UK showed that smaller brands were yet to make official steps towards compliance. This was attributed to larger companies having more resources to assign to FIC, as well as remaining confusion among the smaller brands over what is required.

Some aspects of FIC are well-known, such as the re-ordering of nutrients in the nutrition panel, but there are a few exceptions where nutrition is not legally required by the FIC at all and these are less well understood.

There has been a shift towards presenting ingredients as a single list – perhaps due to the increased font size for mandatory information as space is at a premium.

Back-of-pack nutrition information is mandatory, while that on the front is voluntary. Some brands still wish to display nutritional information on the front of pack for marketing purposes, but the placement is important as it has to appear in what is referred to as the ‘principal field of vision’ – the part of the pack most likely to be seen at first glance by a consumer at the time of purchase.

FIC also places an obligation on retailers to provide all the mandatory label information (excluding expiry dates) to potential customers through distance selling channels, such as websites.

Gary Lynch, chief executive of GS1 UK, said: “There were encouraging signs from this survey, which revealed some general improvements on the findings from the last one undertaken in April. However, the larger brands have made far more visible progress than the smaller brands and we are concerned about possible bottlenecks at the printers towards the end of the year.

"We recommend all suppliers of food and drink products make FIC compliance across all channels a priority or they risk not being able to sell their products legally after 13 December.”

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