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Foods and drinks: new requirements for EU labels

On 13 December 2014, EU regulation 1169/2011 came into force, standardising the labelling of foods and drinks in EU countries. The food business operator or importer is responsible for the information on the label. 

Foods and drinks: new requirements for EU labels

Superseding the previous EU directive, the new regulations introduce requirements making labels more transparent in their content and more legible, with the character size defined on the basis of the package size  and printed in a clear and legible manner.

The typefaces used on labels cannot be:

  • Smaller than 1.2 mm
  • Smaller than 0.9 mm if the packaging has a surface area of less than 80 cm2
  • For packaging with surfaces less than 10 cm2, the label may contain only the key information.

Consumer health should now have greater protection, even though this will lead to increased work for industry and distribution. Food producers, once the stocks in their warehouses have finished, will have to:

  • Review and reprint all their labels to insert the new obligatory information
  • Check the sizes of their typefaces and the label position, which must be in a clearly visible area and not on a marginal part of the package.

This regulatory update represents an opportunity to check and update the entire labelling system. With the support and know-how of ALTECH, you have the possibility to introduce new solutions to increase company productivity and profitability.

ALTECH industrial labelling machines are extremely flexible and can be adapted to meet any new regulatory requirements.

Obligatory label contents

All labels for food and drink products, before the current reforms, contained: name of the food or drink product, list of ingredients with relative quantities, net quantity, expiry date and storage requirements, name of the food business operator or importer marketing the product, and the alcohol content for drinks containing more than 1.2% alcohol by volume. From 13 December 2014:

  • Ingredients which can represent an allergy risk (gluten, nuts, fish, shellfish, milk, soy, mustard etc.) must be indicated in bold in a different colour from the rest of the text
  • The expiry date must be printed on each individual pre-packaged portion, and no longer only on the outer package
  • For frozen fish and meat and unprocessed frozen preparations of fish and meat, the date of freezing must be indicated
  • For fish, both the scientific and commercial name of the fish must be indicated, along with the location it was caught, the equipment used (line, drag net etc.) and whether it has been frozen, while the current requirement to list the method of production (whether caught in the sea, in fresh water or farmed) remains unchanged.
  • For vegetable oils and fats, the generic indication “vegetable oil or vegetable fat” is no longer acceptable, and the source must now be stated (e.g. sunflower oil)
  • Salamis and sausages must now clearly indicate when the skin is not edible

The obligatory information, as well as the name, must now also include the food business operator, in other words the operator under whose name or business name the food is marketed

The indication of the production plant, previously required under Italian legislation (Italian law 109 of 1992), is now optional.

Currently the  place of rearing and slaughter is required information only for beef; from April 2015 – due to a related regulation – this information must also be specified on packaging for pork, mutton and lamb, goat meat and poultry.

From 13 December 2016 it will also be obligatory to provide the nutritional values: energy contents, percentages of fatty acids, saturated fats, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and salt, expressed per 100 g or 100 ml of product.