Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 (FIC) sets out the general principles and obligations regarding the provision of food information. In Ireland, food information must be provided in English. Other languages including Irish may be provided in addition.
Food Information must be accurate, clear and easy to understand for the consumer, it must not be misleading particularly:
- a) As to the characteristics of the food and, in particular, as to its nature, identity, properties, composition, quantity, durability, country of origin or place of provenance, method of manufacture or production;
- b) By attributing to the food, effects or properties which it does not possess;
- c) By suggesting that the food possesses special characteristics when in fact, all similar foods possess such characteristics, in particular by specifically emphasising the presence or absence of certain ingredients and/or nutrients;
- d) By suggesting, by means of the appearance, the description or pictorial representations, the presence of a particular food or an ingredient, while in reality a component naturally present or an ingredient normally used in that food has been substituted with a different component or a different ingredient
Prepacked foods are defined in legislation as:
‘any single item for presentation as such to the final consumer and to mass caterers, consisting of a food and the packaging into which it was put before being offered for sale, whether such packaging encloses the food completely or only partially, but in any event in such a way that the contents cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging;
‘Non prepacked food’ are foods sold without packaging; foods packed on the sales premises at the consumer’s request or foods prepacked for direct sale.
In the case of prepacked foods, mandatory food information must appear directly on the package or on a label attached to the packaging. The information must be in a conspicuous place in such a way as to be easily visible, clearly legible and, where appropriate, indelible. It must not in any way be hidden, obscured, detracted from or interrupted by any other written or pictorial matter or any other intervening material. Voluntary information must not be displayed to the detriment of the space available for mandatory food information.
Mandatory information must be printed on the package or on the label in such a way as to ensure clear legibility, in characters using a font size where the x-height is equal to or greater than 1.2mm (as defined in Annex IV to FIC).
In case of packaging or containers, the largest surface of which has an area of less than 80cm2, the x-height of the font size must be equal to or greater than 0.9mm.
The following mandatory information must appear on the label of a prepacked food:
(a) the name of the food*
(b) the list of ingredients
(c) any ingredient or processing aid listed in Annex II to FIC or derived from a substance or product listed in Annex II to FIC causing allergies or intolerances used in the manufacture or preparation of a food and still present in the finished product, even if in an altered form
(d) the quantity of certain ingredients or categories of ingredients
(e) the net quantity of the food*
(f) the date of minimum durability or the ‘use by’ date
(g) any special storage conditions and/or conditions of use
(h) the name or business name and address of the food business operator referred to in Article 8(1) of FIC
(i) the country of origin or place of provenance where its absence may mislead the consumer as to the true origin or provenance of the food or where country of origin is specifically required under legislation
(j) instructions for use where it would be difficult to make appropriate use of the food in the absence of such instructions
(k) with respect to beverages containing more than 1.2 % by volume of alcohol, the actual alcoholic strength by volume*
(l) a nutrition declaration ( not mandatory until 13 December 2016)
*must appear in the same field of vision
Of the above mandatory list, foods which are non-prepacked foods must provide allergen information ( (c) above), other indications from this list can be provided on a voluntary basis, however if a food business operator provides any information on a voluntary basis, the requirements set out in FIC must be followed.
In July 2012 the FSAI published an Overview of changes to food labelling introduced under the food information Regulation which highlights some of the significant changes under FIC.
Last reviewed: 13/6/2018