EU 1169/2011; info, effects & implications

EU 1169 / 2011

EU 1169 / 2011

Effects EU 1169/2011 for FMCG sector

No matter the size of your company, you have exactly one year left to comply with new EU regulation 1169/2011. This new regulation will be in effect as of December 13, 2014 and the clock is ticking for food producing companies to comply. Here’s how the regulation will affect your business:

Additional info

At first glance, the implications of EU 1169/2011 seem substantial but things may not be as bad as they look. The new rules merely are reordered and modified versions of existing ones. However, brand managers will still need to obtain and publish additional information regarding their products. Product data will now be required to include highlighted allergen info, nanotechnology properties, a broader scope of the ‘country of origin labeling’ and a nutritional declaration. Getting this information correct could contribute considerably to the regulatory burdens of your company. Unfortunately, obtaining this data will be mandatory for your labeling and online sales.

Marketing restrictions

The way your products are marketed could change. The new labeling regulation stipulates that several pieces of information be included, such as ingredients, warnings and country of origin, just to name a few. Also, claims indicating food cures, or the prevention or treatment of diseases are no longer allowed. This will affect brands that focus on health gains as a key selling point, but it is important to note the boundaries here are quite vague. In addition to the labeling, your packaging will have to be redesigned to facilitate the new information requirements. On the plus side, however, long transition periods have been granted for these kinds of redesigns.

Online conditions

You may want to sell your products online, as well. If you do – and I have no doubt you do – you will also need to meet certain requirements. In order to correctly inform online buyers, products offered online will be required to include the same product info that is found on the product packaging. Additionally, this product data must be kept up-to-date and complete at every single online point of sale. A brand manager will need to stay in touch with all channel administrators and constantly and proactively feed them any updated information in order to adhere to the new regulations. This could cost valuable time and money.

Legal Impact of EU 1169/2011 for FMCGs and Retailers with regards to online sales.

There are a few general implications that all food-producing companies will experience with regards to EU 1169. These implications have to do with packaging, labeling, marketing and online sales. This latter category will be the focus of this blog, as we will be taking an in-depth look into the legal implications.

Briefly stated, regulation EU 1169 orders food information to be made available to consumers through all existing sales channels. Retail sale is one of them; here, the info must be shown on the actual package of the product. Other channels will hereby be referred to as ‘Distance Sales’. Distance sales, in this context, simply refer to online sales. So, through some form of communication, the mandatory information must be provided at the point of sale before a consumer purchases the product. Online, this will likely be a list that accompanies the photo, price and name of the product.

The question is, who is responsible for providing this info? The regulation is not veryclear on this point. The text says: “this regulation shall apply to all food business operators at all stages of the food chain, where their activities concern the provision of food information to consumers,” but also “the food business operator responsible for the food information shall be the operator under whose name or business name the food is marketed.” So, food producers themselves will inform via the product packaging. However, ‘food information provision’ is more than just the information on the packaging; other means which can be used include modern technology tools, such as an online platform.

Which conclusions can be drawn? Well, for starters, food-producing companies must ensure full and accurate food-product data in compliance with EU and national food information law.  That will require a significant amount of information be made available to the consumer before they purchase prepackaged food, either at a retailer or online. If online, this mandatory information must be available at each online point of sale (without charge to the consumer) prior to purchase. If the necessary information is not available, the product cannot be sold on that website.

But even more important: if the brand owner does not make the relevant information available to the retailer in a website friendly format, it will be hard for the retailer to sell the products via their website. A system of cooperation between the brand owner and retailer will be required to ensure that accurate and complete mandatory food information is available to the consumer prior to purchase. In other words, FMCGs and retailers will have to start thinking of online product data exchange options. They will have to make up their minds fast, because time is running out. EU 1169/2011 will be in effect as of December 13, 2014. 

Are you ready for EU regulation 1169/2011?

By December 2014, every FMCG in Europe must find a way to keep their online product information and images up-to-date. 

How to interpret EU regulation 1169/2011?

Up-to-date product information must be made available to consumers prior to them buying products online, or through mobile apps.

Consumers must have free access to product information.

When product information is not available, products should not be sold online or through mobile apps.

Full regulatory compliance is required by December 13, 2014.

The Basic Implications EU 1169/2011 for Food Product Labeling:

Food labeling – what you must show:

For food sold pre-packed, you must be able to see all this information when you look at the front of the product:

  • The name of the food
  • A ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date (or where to find it)
  • Quantity
  • Any necessary warnings

You must include these on the label, but they can be on the back or side of the product:

  • A list of ingredients (if there are more than 2)
  • The name and address of the manufacturer, packer or seller
  • The lot number (or use-by date if you wish)
  • Any special storage conditions
  • Instructions for use or cooking, if necessary

You must also show these if they apply to your product:

  • A warning for drinks with an alcohol content above 1.2%
  • A warning if the product contains GM ingredients, unless their presence is accidental and 0.9% or less
  • A warning if the product has been radiated
  • The words ‘packaged in a protective atmosphere’ if the food is packaged using a packaging gas
  • Country of origin. The label for beef, veal, fish and shellfish, honey, olive oil, wine, most fruit and vegetables and poultry imported from outside the EU must show the country of origin. You must also show the country of origin if customers might be misled without this information, e.g. if the label for a pizza shows the leaning tower of Pisa but the pizza is made in the Netherlands.

Special rules for some products:

If you supply any of the following, there are special rules about what you can call them and what you have to show on the label

  • bottled water
  • bread, flour, cocoa and chocolate products
  • fats and oils
  • fruit juices and nectars
  • honey, jams and preserves
  • fish, meat and meat products
  • milk and milk products
  • soluble coffee and sugar

Nutrition, health and medical labeling:

Nutrition labeling:

  • If you want to show nutrition information on your product, you must follow the rules for nutrition labeling.
  • You must show nutrition labeling in case of:
  • a nutrition or health claim
  • added vitamins or minerals to the food
  • If you want to make a nutrition claim, e.g. low fat, you have to follow certain rules.

Health claims:

  • If you want to make a health claim, for instance how a certain product or ingredient benefits health, you have to follow certain rules.

Medical claims:

  • You must not claim that food can treat, prevent or cure any disease or medical condition.

Organic food labeling for retailers:

Retailers can label products as organic as long as 95% of the farm-grown ingredients used are organic, and you only sell organic products directly to customers in your shop.

Organic certification for FMCGs:

If you produce or prepare organic food, you must be certified by one of the organic control bodies if you want to sell or label it as organic.

You can decide which body to register with based on your location and needs.

Once registered, you’ll have to:

  • follow a strict set of guidelines laid down by national and international law
  • keep thorough and accurate records of production processes
  • allow annual and random inspections
  • You’ll also have to follow the rules for labeling organic products.

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