Mandatory origin labelling for processed foods

Food Label Print publication


Mandatory labelling informing customers of the country of origin of a product has been in force for several years for fresh meat, fruit, vegetables, eggs and fish. However, up until now, no comparative regulations have existed on processed products such as ready meals, canned food or alcohol products (other than wine). That will change on 1 April 2020.

In May 2018, the European Commission adopted new rules on food labelling which state that the origin of the primary ingredient of processed foods must be indicated if it is different from the origin of the food product itself. The new rules come into effect in April next year and will give the consumer clearer information about the origin of food sold on the European market. The rules will apply in the UK even after Brexit, assuming that the UK doesn’t leave the EU in a ‘no-deal’ scenario.

Although the new rules were established last year, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned that food business operators (FBOs) have not grasped the enormity of the changes that are required. The BRC has warned that thousands of processed food and drink labels will need to be changed which will cost the food and drink sector millions of pounds to implement.

To that end the BRC has partnered with the Food & Drink Federation to produce a guidance paper to help FBOs prepare for the changes. The deputy director of food at the BRC, Andrea Martinez-Inchausti, said “Urgent changes are required to more than 50% of all packaged food and drink labels sold in the supermarkets, however many businesses were not aware of the impending rule change”.

WM Comment

All FBOs should be looking at these new labelling requirements and putting plans in place if changes to existing labels are required.