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Allergy sufferers and fussy eaters to benefit from clearer food labelling from this weekend

Posted by Nick Prag at 11 December 2014, 18:05 CET |
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The provision of food information to consumers takes a major step forward in the EU this weekend, with a new mandatory food labelling system heading for Europe's supermarket shelves and restaurants.

From 13 December, consumers will benefit from clearer, more comprehensive and accurate information on food content, so that they can make more informed choices about what they eat and don't eat.

The EU's new Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of information to consumers - the result of years of work to improve food labelling rules in the EU, says the European Commission - covers information on allergens, nutrients, the origin of meat and 'nano' ingredients, and replaces and combines previous labelling rules into one piece of legislation.

Food labelsMore specifically, key labelling changes include improved legibility, clearer and harmonised presentation of allergens for pre-packed foods; allergen information for non-pre-packed food; nutrition information for pre-packed processed foods; origin information for fresh meat; engineered nano-materials; oils and fats; and clear indication of "formed meat" or "formed fish", and also of defrosted products.

Not everything changes on the 13th, as some rules will be rolled out progressively. Rules relating to mandatory nutritional labelling for processed food will only apply from 13 December 2016.

But from Saturday allergens must be highlighted in the ingredients' list in bold, underlined or in different colours.

Restaurants and canteens will also have to display allergen information. These are aimed at making eating out safer and less problematic for consumers with allergies.

The Commission says it has been working with businesses to smooth implementation of the changes. Food manufacturers now have exactly two years to align their product packaging with the other rules. These include compulsory nutrition declaration.

So good news for allergy sufferers and fussy eaters. And also for myopic eaters, who might at last stand a chance of actually seeing the bigger font sizes of the new labels.

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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.