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Food labelling: what’s new in 2020

In the latest years, the consumers’ interest for the information reported in the labelling of food products grew so much that the presentation of information in the label and the nutrition facts play now a crucial role in driving people’s shopping.

Companies are therefore in search of a balance between the appeal of slogans and outer graphics of the labels and the mandatory information imposed by the national and EU regulations.

These Regulations have their foundations in Regulation (EU) 1169/2011, on the provision of food information to consumers, but are continuously updated by other delegated regulations and further measures. Let’s see then which are the indications that any label should mandatorily report and which are main updates introduced in 2020.

Regulation (UE) 1169/2011 established that the following information should be reported in the label of each product:

  • the name of the food;
  • the list of ingredients;
  • the indication of any substance causing allergies or intolerances;
  • the quantity of certain ingredients;
  • the net quantity of the food;
  • the date of minimum durability or the ‘use by’ date;
  • any special storage conditions and/or conditions of use;
  • the name or business name and address of the food business operator responsible of the product and of its safety;
  • the country of origin or place of provenance where provided;
  • the instructions for use where it would be difficult to make appropriate use of the food in the absence of such instructions;
  • with respect to beverages containing more than 1,2 % by volume of alcohol, the actual alcoholic strength by volume;
  • a nutrition declaration.

It is, of course, just a reference list. The regulation is then accompanied by a long series of conditions for use, exception, restrictions and further indications to be considered and evaluated on a case-by-case basis, depending on the product: for this reason, it always useful to consult the experts in the field.

One aspect consumers pay special attention to is certainly the nutrition declaration. In the cases when such declaration is mandatory, it should include the following minimum information:

  • energy value, indicating the energy of the product in terms of calories;
  • the amounts of fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt.

At the beginning of 2020 the European Commission was notified with the Italian proposal of a nutrition labelling system, based on the symbol of the battery, called NutrInform Battery.

This battery system will show to consumers the food nutrition intake in relation to the daily needs and an appropriate diet, highlighting the percentage of calories, fats, sugars and salt for each serving, compared to the quantity recommended by the European Union. Food sector manufacturers and distributors will be able to adopt this new battery labelling system voluntarily as soon as the European Commission gives their green light.

Another aspect debated this year is the indication of the country of origin or place of provenance in the label. In fact, Regulation (EU) 2018/775 on the provision of food information to consumers, as regards the rules for indicating the country of origin or place of provenance of the primary ingredient of a food applies as of 1 April 2020. As of this date, all food should include the indication of the country of origin or place of provenance of the primary ingredient of a food, where required.

However, due to the COVID-19 health emergency, the Italian Ministry of the Economic development provided for temporary supporting measures for companies, allowing them to dispose of the stocks of packaging and labelling already available due to agreements signed before 1 April 2020.

A time extension was also provided for the mandatory provisions on the indication of the origin of durum wheat in the label of pasta from durum wheat semolina, rice and tomato derivatives, so that the deadline originally established on 31 December 2020 was postponed to 31 December 2021 by the Decree 1 April 2020 of the Italian Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Forests.

Written by: Valentina Generoso

Foto di Alexas_Fotos da Pixabay