EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation
Date: Feb 2015
The EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation (No. 1169/2011) (EU FIC) was published at the end of 2011, bringing together general and nutrition labelling regulations into a single framework. The new law gave food businesses three years to get on board with the changes required on product labelling as well as the provision of allergen information required for loose foods.
In 2012, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) set up a major project to support the implementation of the new allergen information rules within the EU FIC. The FSA’s ongoing objective is to make sure that food businesses, food enforcement officers and consumers have guidance, information, tools and advice to understand and comply with the changes introduced by the regulation.
New rules in effect
The new rules came into effect on 13 December 2014. It introduced new requirements on allergen labelling for prepacked foods and allergen information for foods not-prepacked such as meals in a restaurant, café, school or hospitals. The latter represented the biggest change.
As part of the implementation phase, the FSA identified projects surrounding the development of technical guidance, the provision of advice, E-learning training modules, resources and tools to make it easier for enforcement officers and businesses to understand the rules and comply.
The changes to allergen information on product labelling also saw the need to revise and update consumer advice.
Collaboration is key
The key to implementing a new regulation is to get interested parties involved in collaborative and joint working. We did this with partners and stakeholders who then set up projects which shared our messages. This ensured that we produced material – with input from food businesses as well as food allergic or intolerant patients – which was practical and fit for purpose; a move that was pivotal in helping us achieve our objectives.
In the UK, we are fortunate that a good proportion of food businesses already step up to the mark by providing vital allergen information to their customers.
Food businesses, as a whole, largely want to do the right thing so they can prevent people from getting ill, or in the worst case, dying. Their reward is a happy and loyal customer.
While we have improved legislation, customers with food allergy or intolerance must always take responsibility for their condition. They should always ask and always check for allergenic ingredients (because recipes and ingredients can change). Speaking to a member of staff also enables them to take extra care when preparing the meal.
Communicating the changes
Allergy Awareness Week in April 2014, and our recent communication campaign around the 13 December 2014 launch, were great opportunities for the FSA to raise awareness of food allergy and the introduction of the new law.
Social media has such a force behind it and those with a passion for food allergy and intolerance are not inhibited by their views; it drives the FSA forward and reminds us of why we are here - to protect the consumer.
For more information about the EU FIC allergen rules, please see our consumer advice on www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/multimedia/pdfs/publication/allergy-leaflet.pdf
You can find our allergy resources at: www.food.gov.uk/allergen-resources
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Next review: 2 February 2021