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Food labelling: new European regulations

Eurocarne Post interview with Saverio Linguanti, a specialist in food legislation. “As of next 13 December, there will be many changes, even in the meat sector. Among others things, requirements are envisaged for distance selling and obligations as regards fresh produce”.

There are other new aspects in arrival for food industry professionals. As of next 13 December, EU Regulation 1169/2011 came into force addressing labelling activity in order to control product information and help consumers make informed choices. Eurocarne Post looked into the news and issues posed by the new legislation with Saverio Linguanti, owner of a consulting firm in Brescia specialising in the field of food legislation and administrative law as applied to food procedures.


Dr. Linguanti: Following the definitive application of the EU Labelling Regulation1169/2011, series of major changes will affect operators in the food sector. What are the most important innovations?

“First of all, there is an extension of the field of application for foodstuff labelling even for community centres, i.e. 'any structure (including a vehicle or a fixed or mobile sales counter), such as restaurants, cafeterias, schools, hospitals and caterers where, within the framework of business activity, foods are prepared for immediate consumption by consumers’. There are also obligations in the context of distance selling of foodstuffs as well for food information managers to assure and verify compliance with the requirements of the standard; its methodological reference is Regulation 178/2002. It also established the principle that information about food products sold must be provided by the producer in order to allow purchasers or processors in turn to provide correct information to consumers. Not to mention additional requirements for products with additives such as caffeine or phytosterols, phytostanols or phytostanol esters.”


What changes, in particular, will affect the meat industry?

“There are also numerous regulations for meat-based preparations. For example, fresh pork, sheep, goat and poultry meat must indicate of country of origin or place of origin, in addition to the sales description. The date when meat and meat-based preparations were frozen for the first time must also be indicated and the name of allergens present must be repeated whenever they are found in several ingredients and the processing aids used in their production. Finally, other action addresses the regularization of non-edible sausage casings.”


What are the objectives of the EU regulation?

“This set of regulations aims to define bases for high level consumer protection with regard to food information, taking into account differences in perception and ensuring at the same time good functioning of the domestic market.”


What us the state-of-the-art as regards labelling practices in Italy?

“Foodstuffs labelling is currently regulated in Italy by Legislative Decree 109/1992 but as of 14 December 2014 it will be superseded by the new dispositions with probable application problems largely associated with sanctions. In this regard, pending new the legislative decree identifying the penalties for infringements of the dispositions of Regulation (EC) 1169, the Ministry for Economic Development and the Ministry of Health have jointly prepared a specific circular to clarify applicability, as per the corresponding dispositions of the regulation, of the penalties defined in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of Article 18 of Legislative Decree n° 109/1992. As regards the state of the art, we must clarify that official control activities carried out during 2013 detected labelling irregularities of 2.1% in the inspection stage and 4.6% in the analytical stage.”


Community legislation excludes all pre-packaged products, and therefore also meat, prepared by retail chains. Why?

“So-called food products pre-wrapped in the place of sale are included in Regulation 1169/2011 among non-pre-packed food products, for which the general obligation for indicating allergenic ingredients applies. Member States may define specific dispositions for this foodstuff presentation category.”


Source: Eurocarne Outlook

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