National Consultation on the Use of Food Marketing Terms Opens

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) today announced a public consultation on the use of food marketing terms in Ireland. The consultation is based on a draft code of practice aimed at protecting the integrity of certain marketing terms on food and thereby protecting the interests of consumers and the small food industry. All interested parties including consumers, regulators and the food industry are urged to visit to communicate their views.

The draft code of practice was developed for consultation by a working group consisting of the FSAI, Food and Drink Industry Ireland, the FSAI Artisan Forum and the Consumers' Association of Ireland. The consultation will run for 8 weeks and the closing date for responses is 14 May 2014. All feedback and comments will be considered in advance of the FSAI publishing a final industry code of practice later in the year.

This code of practice outlines the general legal requirements but in addition will provide an agreed set of additional rules for the food industry concerning the use of the following marketing terms to describe foods placed on the Irish market:

• Artisan/Artisanal
• Farmhouse
• Traditional
• Natural

Although these rules are not legally binding, the FSAI expects food businesses to adhere to them having been involved in their development. The code of practice will help to ensure that consumers are not misled and will aid food businesses in compliance with the labelling, advertising and presentation of food as specified in Article 16 of the General Food Law Regulation 178/2002 and expanded in Article 7 of Regulation EU No. 1169/2011 on food information to consumers which comes into force on 13 December 2014.

According to Dr Wayne Anderson, Director of Food Science and Standards, FSAI, the code of practice will go a long way to addressing concerns raised by small businesses which rely on the identified marketing terms as a means of communicating the genuine differences between the foods they offer and mainstream commercial foodstuffs. 

    “Marketing terms are designed to resonate with consumers. However, when they are used incorrectly they have the potential to mislead. This is a concern that needs to be addressed, so we are encouraging all parties to take part in the consultation process and submit their views,” said Dr Anderson. “In particular, it is important that consumers are confident that the foods they buy are accurately and truthfully described. Food businesses should also be confident that genuine descriptions of their food are not diluted in the marketplace by the spurious use of undefined marketing terms by other food businesses.”