Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011(FIC) applies to all foods and it places an obligation on food business operators to indicate the country of origin or of the place of provenance of a food whenever its absence is likely to mislead consumers as to the true country of origin or place of provenance of that product. FIC also required the introduction of rules regarding the indication of the country of origin or of the place of provenance for the meat of pigs, sheep, goat and poultry (see below) and rules in cases where the origin of the final product presented to the consumer is not the same as the origin of the principal ingredient(s) of the food (see below).
The EU has established mandatory origin information provisions for certain products under product specific rules e.g. beef and beef products, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables, honey and olive oil. Foods which do not have product specific provisions regarding country of origin or of place of provenance indication, will be subject to the EU’s non-preferential rules of origin i.e. the Customs legislation.
EU Customs Rules and Origin
These rules are laid down in:
The EU have information available on the customs rules on their website. Note that under FIC when origin is based on the customs rules, it must be based on the 'non-preferential rules'.
In summary, determination of originating status of a product under the EU non-preferential rules is as follows:
- Goods wholly obtained in a single country or territory are regarded as having their origin in that country or territory
- Goods the production of which involves more than one country or territory are deemed to originate in the country or territory where they underwent their last, substantial, economically-justified processing or working, in an undertaking equipped for that purpose, resulting in the manufacture of a new product or representing an important stage of manufacture
In general 'last substantial transformation' is determined in three ways:
- by a change of tariff (sub) heading in the HS nomenclature;
- by undergoing a manufacturing or processing operation that is listed in the customs rules as a process that confers on the goods the origin of the country in which these operations were carried out;
- by a value added rule, where the increase of value due to assembly operations and incorporation of originating materials represents a specified level of the ex-works price of the product
Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1337/2013(OJ L335, p19, 14/12/2013) of 13 December 2013 laying down rules for the application of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the indication of the country of origin or place of provenance for fresh, chilled and frozen meat of swine, sheep, goats and poultry
European Union (Origin Labelling of Meat) Regulations 2015 (S.I. 113 of 2015)
This legislation lays down rules on the indication of the country of origin or place of provenance on the label of fresh, chilled and frozen meat of pigs, sheep, goats and poultry. It requires that food business operators have a traceability system in place at all stages of production and distribution of the meat, from slaughtering until packaging to ensure a link between the labelled meat and the animal or group of animals from which that meat has been obtained.
Regulation (EU) No 1337/2013 specifies that the indication ‘Origin: (name of Member State or third country)’ can only be used on the meat of pigs, sheep, goats and poultry if the food business operator proves to the satisfaction of the competent authority that the meat referred to has been obtained from animals born, reared and slaughtered in one single Member State or third country.
If the meat does not originate in one single EU Member State or Third Country, then the indications required are:
- 'Reared in: (name of the Member State or third country)’
- ‘Slaughtered in: (name of the Member State or third country)’and
- The batch code identifying the meat supplied to the consumer or mass caterer
Criteria for determining the Member State or third country of rearing is set out in the legislation for each species. Where that criteria is not met the legislation requires that the indication ‘Reared in: (name of the Member State or third country)’ is replaced with:
- Reared in: several Member States of the EU’ or, where the meat or the animals have been imported into the EU, by ‘Reared in: several non-EU countries’ or ‘Reared in: several EU and non-EU countries’
Where several pieces of meat, of the same or of different species are presented in the same pack to the consumer or mass caterer, but have different indications ie Some meat meets the criteria to use the indication "Origin X" and other meat in the pack has to indicate Reared in and Slaughtered in, the label of the pack must indicate:
- the list of the relevant Member States or third countries in accordance with the requirements set out in the Regulation for each species;
- The batch code identifying the meat supplied to the consumer or mass caterer
The legislation includes derogations for minced meat and trimmings.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has produced further information on this legislation which includes a Frequently Asked Question document on the origin labelling rules and an Information Notice.
Primary Ingredient and Origin Indications
Article 26(3) of Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 set down the requirements for providing the country of origin of place of provenance of a food where this is given and where it is not the same as the origin of its primary ingredient(s).
These rules apply from 1 April 2020.
The FSAI acknowledges the challenging situation facing food businesses as a result of the evolving COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. Many food businesses will already be prepared for the necessary changes but may be restricted by activities outside of their control or by the demand for certain products. Food businesses should apply the new labels where possible and where issues arise, these should be discussed directly with your inspecting officer.
A primary ingredient is defined in Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 as meaning ‘an ingredient or ingredients of a food that represent more than 50% of that food or which are usually associated with the name of the food by the consumer and for which in most cases a quantitative indication (QUID %) is required’
Article 26(3) of FIC states that where the country of origin or place of provenance of a food is given and where it is not the the same as that of its primary ingredient, then
- the country of origin or place of provenance of the primary ingredient in question must also be given
- the country of origin or place of provenance of the primary ingredient must be indicated as being different to that of the food.
The manner in which the above information is given is set out in:
Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/775 (OJ L 131, 29.5.2018, p. 8–11) of 28 May 2018 laying down rules for the application of Article 26(3) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council 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
It specifies that the origin or place of provenance of the primary ingredient must be given either by:
- reference to a geographical area – such as ‘EU’, ‘non-EU’, or to a named country or region within a country
- by means of a statement as follows: ‘(name of the primary ingredient) do/does not originate from (the country of origin or the place of provenance of the food)’ or any similar wording likely to have the same meaning for the consumer.
European Commission guidance note - includes guidance on geographical regions and indications and how and where to declare information on the label.
FSAI Questions and Answers document - to help address the many questions raised by the food industry to date.
Last reviewed: 6/9/2022