EU Food Policy - What's New on the Menu?

by DLA Piper

DLA Piper

EU Regulation on food labelling. Next steps

Commission Regulation: rules for applications concerning the use of generic descriptors

EC amends nano elements of food information and labelling rule

The new British front-of-pack label – Developments

European Food Safety Authority publishes feed additives guidance

European Commission Work Programme 2014

EU Regulation on food labelling. Next steps


On 25 October 2011, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011on the provision of food information to consumers (hereinafter, the ‘FIC Regulation’).

The FIC Regulation establishes the legal framework for the provision of food information provided to consumers by food business operators. It sets down the general principles, responsibilities as well as requirements aimed at achieving clear, comprehensible and legible labelling of foods


Furthermore, the FIC Regulation provides for a list of authorised health claims, which have received a positive scientific evaluation from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Although it entered into force on 12 December 2011, the new rules will apply from 13 December 2014, while the obligation to provide nutrition information will apply from 13 December 2016.

The Regulation provides for the Commission to take the following actions by 13 December 2013:


Adopt implementing acts on the mandatory indication of country of origin or place of provenance for unprocessed meat of swine, poultry, sheep and goats after an impact assessment;


Adopt implementing acts on the application of “voluntary origin” labelling of foods after an impact assessment;


Submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the mandatory indication of the country of origin or place of provenance for meat used as an ingredient as well as:


Types of meat other than beef, swine, sheep, goat and poultry;




Meat used as an ingredient;


Unprocessed foods;


Single ingredient products;


Ingredients that constitute over 50% of a food.

Therefore in the next months, the Commission, assisted by the Standing Committee on the food chain and animal health will draft a series of implementing acts, providing guidelines for uniform conditions of implementation.

For example, concerning alcoholic beverages, the Regulation invites the Commission to produce a report, within three years of the entry into force of the legislation, on the application of the requirements to provide information on ingredients and nutrition information to alcoholic beverages. Moreover, after consultation with stakeholders and the Member States, the Commission should consider the need for a definition of beverages such as “alcopops”, which are specifically targeted at young people. The Regulation also provides for the Commission to propose, if appropriate, specific requirements relating to alcoholic beverages.

Commission Regulation: rules for applications concerning the use of generic descriptors

On 20 September 2013, the European Commission adopted implementing rules for applications concerning the use of generic descriptors under Article 1(4) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. According to the Regulation, for generic descriptors (denominations) which have traditionally been used to indicate a particularity of a class of foods or beverages which could imply an effect on human health, the Commission is able to supplement the Regulation with clear rules and guidelines. These rules can now be consulted in Commission Regulation (EU) No 907/2013.

The rules provide for food business operators to submit applications and additionally for trade associations representing specific food sectors to submit applications on behalf of their members. The generic descriptors should correspond to a period of at least 20 years proven usage within the Member State(s) prior to the date of entry into force of the Regulation. The content of the application is laid down in Part V of the Annex to the Regulation and includes:


The generic descriptor subject to the application;


A brief description of the particularity of the class of foods or beverages which the generic descriptor covers;


A detailed description, highlighting the particularity and the elements that distinguish the class of foods or beverages marketed under the generic descriptor, for which the application is made, from other products falling within the same class of foods or beverages;


The Member State(s) for which the application concerning the use of the generic descriptor is made by the applicant;


Relevant evidence or information related to consumer understanding and perception of the effects that could be implied by the generic descriptor;


Evidence demonstrating the presence on the market of the class of foods or beverages with the generic descriptor over at least a 20 year period.

Commission Regulation (EU) No 907/2013 entered into force on 11 October 2013, 20 days following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. As described above, the Regulation lays down the rules should an application be necessary. What is important to note is that much of the mandatory information required in support of an application is down to the interpretation of individual Member States. This means that Member States may adopt different interpretations regarding the relevance and suitability of the evidence and information provided.


Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006

Commission Regulation (EU) No 907/2013

EC amends nano elements of food information and labelling rule

With a delegated act, the European Commission has issued a draft rule amending Regulation 1169/2011 – a rule regulating food labelling and information to consumers – with regard to the use of the term “nano” to describe food additives.

According to the revised regulation, some food additives which were previously registered as "nano", may no longer be categorised as such. In fact, the amended rule applies the definition of “engineered nanomaterial” provided in Recommendation 2011/696/EU, which reflects the technical and scientific progress to date.

In an attempt to reduce the confusion that might stem from the word “nano” preceding certain food additives, the revision states that “food additives included in the [Union lists] should not be mandatorily qualified as ‘nano’ in the list of ingredients and should therefore not be covered by the definition of engineered nanomaterials.” Moreover, nano-related labelling requirements for food additives should be evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority.


Original source

The new British front-of-pack label – Developments

In June 2013, a new system of front-of-pack food labelling was introduced in the UK on a voluntary basis, using a combination of colour coding (traffic lights inspired) and nutritional information that is believed to be consumer friendly.



Three months since its introduction, what are the reactions?

While major UK retailers, as well as a handful of major food manufacturers, signed up for the traffic light labelling, European trade organisations have shown deep concern about the developments. In particular, the pan-European food and beverage industry association, ‘FoodDrinkEurope’, backed by Italian and German food industry trade associations, declared that the UK's classification is overly simplistic and does not take into account how different foods are combined in a diet context. Additionally, ‘FoodDrinkEurope’ claimed that the voluntary hybrid labelling scheme could lead to a proliferation of national schemes and contribute to fragmentation of the European internal market.

Research by the Food Standards Agency shows that UK consumers prefer traffic light labelling because it offers key information on the front of the package, making it easier to identify and understand nutritional values in products.

The independent, non-profit organisation ‘foodwatch’ however, harshly criticises the initiative claiming that policymakers are trying to use this method as a justification for privatising healthcare costs. According to foodwatch, traffic light labelling might be presented as a system that provides consumers with all of the necessary information to make food choices related to a sensible diet, implying that if consumers do not make healthily food choices, they will be exploiting the tax-funded British healthcare.


BBC Video

BBC Article




European Food Safety Authority publishes feed additives guidance

On 22 October 2013, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published guidance on the renewal of the authorisation of feed additives. EFSA explains that Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003 establishes rules governing the Community authorisation of additives for use in animal nutrition. Article 9(8) of this Regulation provides that ‘the authorisation granted in accordance with the procedure laid down in this Regulation shall be valid throughout the Community for 10 years and shall be renewable in accordance with Article 14’. Over recent years, EFSA has asked the Panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed (FEEDAP) to develop guidance documents to assist applicants in the preparation and presentation of dossiers for the authorisation of feed additives. This is the first guidance document that has been developed to help applicants in the preparation of dossiers for the renewal of the authorisation (Article 14).


Guidance Document

Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003

European Commission Work Programme 2014

The European Commission has published its Work Programme for 2014, outlining the legislative and policy initiatives that it will focus on next year.

One of the initiatives that will be implemented comes from the Communication on the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT), which sets out the results of a screening carried out by the Commission to improve rationalisation and simplification, highlighting areas where legislative revision (consolidation, simplification) is called for and areas where further analysis (evaluation and fitness checks) is needed to prepare for regulatory revision.

In the field of Food and Nutrition, the Commission Work Programme has retained the suggested action of revising the Food Hygiene legislation (Regulation (EC) 852/2004, Regulation (EC) 853/2004, Regulation (EC) 854/2004, Directive 2004/41/EC), proposed in the REFIT. This means that the Commission will propose new initiatives designed to consolidate the hygiene provisions, simplify procedures and reinforce a flexible approach for SMEs.

It is thus anticipated that the Commission shall engage in consultations with stakeholders and/or shall take steps towards legislative proposals over the coming next months.


Communication on the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT)


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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