New EU food labelling rules will come into force on Saturday (13 December). The aim is to ensure that consumers receive clearer and more accurate information about what they buy and eat.
The new rules will force restaurants and cafés to list 14 different allergens in the menus – including nuts, gluten, lactose, soy or milk.
Displaying allergens was until then only mandatory for pre-packed foods.
Nano components will also have to be included in the ingredients list. Oils will need to refer to the plants used in their production, such as sunflower, palm or olive.
Fresh meat from pigs, sheep, goats and poultry will need to carry a mandatory origin label, with a font size of at least 1.2 milimetres.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU Commissioner in charge of Health and Food Safety, said the new rules will put consumers first but will also be manageable for businesses.
The European food and drink industry highlighted that the sector has been working hard over the past years to comply with the regulation in due time.
“Although some uncertainties still exist as to the interpretation of certain aspects of the new legislation, our members remain committed to providing information in a clear and understandable way to enable consumers to make an informed choice,” Mella Frewen, director general of FoodDrinkEurope, said in a statement.
She added that the industry will now closely monitor the implementation of the regulation at national level, particularly in order to avoid barriers to trade in the EU single market.
The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) said clearer food information became necessary since the horsemeat scandal in 2013, which shook up consumers’ confidence.
“Consumers are often in a hurry when food shopping, so shunting nutrition information to the backof-packs requires them an extra effort. Such key information should be upfront. Food manufacturers will still be free to define portions. Foods for one person, such as a frozen pizza or yoghurt, are obvious portions, but the same cannot be said for foodstuffs like cereals and soup. Unrealistic portions can disguise unhealthy ingredient levels and regulators should provide guidance on portions,” said BEUC’s Director General Monique Goyens.