Aurora Montava / 03 May 2013

Catch up on the labelling regulatory framework on foodstuff

Food law, both at national and EU level, establishes the rights of consumers to safe food and to obtain an honest information related to what they buy and eat. The need to inform and protect the consumers, but also to help them in making an informed choice while purchasing their foodstuffs, is of the highest score of the rules related the labelling of foodstuff.

During the last decade, a strong EU oriented integration of the legislation and global approach on the field of labelling and information to consumers has delivered to a point that allows to say that labelling rules are almost fully EU based. Consequently, these general rules are horizontally applicable to all foodstuffs put on the market all over European Union.

In this frame, they are worth to be mentioned:

  • Council Directive 2000/13/EC on labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs to the final consumer provides for EU legal framework for food labelling. It applies to pre-packaged foodstuffs to be delivered as such to the final consumer or to restaurants, canteens and other similar mass caterers. In Spain, the transposition was made by Real Decreto 1334/1999.
  • This legal framework was recently reviewed by the new Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. Several changes have been introduced in order to improve the legibility of food labels, the nutrition declaration, the origin indication, information on allergens, etc. The new rules will be applicable as from 13 December 2014 and from 13 December 2016, depending on the matter.
  • Regulation (EC) 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and the Council on nutrition and health claims lays down specific provisions concerning the use of nutrition and health claims concerning foods to be delivered as such to the consumer. Only permitted nutrition and health claims can be used in the EU. A list of permitted nutrition claims accompanied by conditions of use is present in the Annex to the Regulation. Health claims are authorised by the Commission, following a scientific advice of the highest possible standard by the European Food Safety Authority. A  Public Register containing the lists of such permitted health claims accompanied by conditions of use has been established and is regularly updated by the Commission.
  • Directive 2002/46/EC of the European Parliament and Council of 10 June 2002 on the approximation of the laws of Member States relating to food supplements establishes harmonised rules for the labelling of food supplements and introduces specific rules on vitamins and minerals in food supplements. It also lists permitted forms of vitamin or mineral preparations that may be added for specific nutritional purposes in food supplements.
  • Regulation (EC) 1925/2006 aims to regulate the addition of vitamins and minerals to foods (“fortified foods”) that are added to foods or used in the manufacture of foods under conditions that result in the ingestion of amounts greatly exceeding those reasonably expected to be ingested under normal conditions of consumption of a balanced and varied diet and/or would otherwise represent a potential risk to consumers.
  • Those categories of foods that are specifically formulated to satisfy the particular nutritional needs of certain specific groups of the population (the so called “dietetic foods“), are today covered by a Framework Directive (Directive 2009/39/EC on foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses). Other certain categories of foods such as baby foods, gluten-free foods etc. are also covered by specific measures. This bunch of rules are currently being revised to simplify the existing rules and maintain only those that are necessary to protect particularly vulnerable groups of the population. A proposal for a new Regulation is currently undergoing the ordinary legislative procedure and is expected to be adopted in 2013.

Such a big and specialized legislative framework requires a high level of competence and expertise of the controlling authorities, food business operators and all kind of assessors. All the food agents need to have a broad knowledge of the regulaton related to the information and labelling of foodstuff. They must also understand the mechanisms of the market in which food and its ingredients can be obtained and where they are sold. At the same time, they must be able to identify noncompliance and fraudulent practices and avoid them. For people of third countries, the knowledge of this regulatory frame can be useful as well to ease their access to the EU market when exporting their foodstuff.

In this context, training is an essential tool to improve the knowledge and awareness of the abovementioned regulatory framework. The Legislation Dep. In ainia will hold the 15th Edition of the On Line Training Course: “Specialization in Food Labelling“. As a summary, the features of the training are:

Dates: 21st May to 5th July, 2013 (100 hours)

Objectives: To increase the understanding and management of the legislation concerning the labelling of foodstuffs. To identify the basic elements for the labeling of food and improve the food labeling in accordance with current legislation. To use the Internet and e-learning tools for optimal learning of the course content.

Aimed to: Professionals and technicians to agri-food and related industries/companies. Civil Servants. Workers in the Public Sector. Students and postgraduates.

Methodology: On-Line course. The objectives are to be achieved throughout the active participation on the platform, with the continous help and support from the pool of tutors. Continuous assessment by using quizzes, assignments, exercises and / or self-assessments to be carried out during the course. Face-to-face (optional) one-day training session at the end of the seminar, devoted to final technical outcomes of the training, as well as to a Q&A session.

Extra information regarding: – logistical issues: Ms. Raquel Laguna (rlaguna@ainia.es) – technical issues: Mr. Jose María Ferrer (jmferrer@ainia.es)

Foto de StayFitNutrition publicada en Flickr

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Aurora Montava
Responsable de proyectos de Legislación alimentaria de ainia

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