FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SERVICE
|General | Allergen Labeling | Beef Labeling | Egg Marking | Genetically Modified Food Products | Gluten-Free | Glycyrrhizinic acid and its ammonium salt (liquorice) | Lot Marking | Metric Labeling | Nutrition Labeling | Organic Labeling | Phytosterols & Phytostanols | QUID | Quinine and Caffeine | "e" weight / volume indication | Wine Labeling|
|General rules on the labeling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs
marketed in the EU are laid down in
European Parliament and Council Directive
directive consolidates general labeling directive 79/112/EEC and all its
amendments in a single text. It applies to foodstuffs intended for
supply to restaurants, hospitals and other similar mass caterers and to
foodstuffs intended for sale to the ultimate consumer.
The indication of the following particulars is compulsory on the labeling of foodstuffs:
Annex I lists the categories of ingredients which may be designated by the name of the
category rather than the specific name, e.g. cheese, spices. Directive
2001/101/EC adds meat as a category and provides at the same time a strict
definition for the term meat. "Stricter
Labeling Rules for Meat Products"
GAIN Report E23004.
Labeling has to be in a language easily understood by consumers; this is in practice the official language(s) of the Member State. Multi-language labeling is allowed throughout the EU.
Product Specific labeling requirements exist for:
|In September 2003, the Council and
the European Parliament adopted an important amendment (Directive
2003/89/EC) to the general food
labeling directive. Since November 2005, indicating the presence of
12 specified groups of allergenic ingredients on food labels has been
Commission Directive 2006/142/EC, applicable as of December 23, 2008,
adds "lupin and products thereof" and "mollusks and products thereof" to
the list of allergenic ingredients. Guidelines for the implementation of
this amendment to the general food labeling directive are available on
Allergen labeling also extend to alcoholic beverages (Directive 2003/89/EC). Commission Directive 2007/68/EC repeals Directive 2005/26/EC and establishes a list of ingredients and substances which are permanently exempted from the mandatory allergen labeling requirement. For more information see GAIN report E47105.
labeling scheme (Commission Regulation 1825/2000 -
amended by Commission Regulation 275/2007) has been in place since September 2000. Full
implementation of the beef labeling scheme went into effect on January 1,
2002. Under this scheme, labels for all bovine meat must indicate the
Labeling requirements for meat of bovine animals
aged 12 months or less are laid down in
361/2008 (amendment to the Single CMO - see "CAP").
Bovine animals aged less than 12 months are classified in two categories: 1)
bovine animals aged 8 months or less and 2) bovine animals aged more than 8
months but less than 12 months. Regulation 361/2008 lists the
different sales descriptions for the two categories.
Commission Regulation 566/2008 lays down detailed rules (compulsory
information on labels and trade with third countries) for the marketing of
the meat of bovine animals aged 12 months or less.
Commission Regulation 589/2008
detailed rules for implementing Council Regulation 1234/2007 ("Single
CMO”) as regards marketing standards for eggs.
The U.S. currently only exports shell eggs to the EU for breaking and
further processing in food processing facilities. Such eggs are graded as
"class B" eggs under EU standards. According to EU interpretation of
Article 30 of Regulation 589/2008, eggs imported from third countries,
including eggs for processing, must be clearly and legibly marked in the
country of origin in accordance with the ISO 3166 country code. In
practice, this means that each egg individually has to be marked "US".
Commission Regulation 598/2008
provides, under strict conditions, for an exemption from the marking
Commission Regulation 617/2008
lays down rules for the marking of eggs for hatching.
How to label
Article 13 of European Parliament and Council Regulation 1829/2003 specifies the wording to be used on the label as follows:
Example: a biscuit containing soy flour derived from GM-soy must be labeled "contains soy flour from genetically modified soy".
Example: for vegetable oils containing rape oil produced from genetically modified rape, the reference "contains rape oil from genetically modified rape" must appear in the list of ingredients.
Example 1: "a spirit containing caramel
produced from genetically modified maize".
The designations in (a) and (b) may appear in a footnote to the ingredients list, provided they are printed in a font at least the same size as that of the list of ingredients or, where there is no list of ingredients, clearly on the labeling.
Commission Regulation 41/2009 lays down new EU harmonized rules for the
composition and labeling of foodstuffs suitable for people who are
intolerant to gluten taking into account the standard adopted by the Codex
Alimentarius Commission in July 2008. The regulation applies to all
foodstuffs except infant formulae and follow-on formulae which are regulated
under a specific directive (Directive 2006/141/EC). For more
Commission Directive 2004/77/EC lays down rules for the labeling of
confectionery and beverages containing glycyrrhizinic acid and its ammonium
Council Directive 89/396/EEC requires that
foodstuffs carry a mark identifying the lot to which a foodstuff belongs.
It defines "lot" as a batch of sales units of a foodstuff produced, manufactured or packaged under practically the same conditions.
The indication to identify the lot should be determined by the producer, manufacturer or packager or by the first seller in the EU. The marking shall be preceded by the letter "L" except in cases when it is clearly distinguishable from other indications on the label. The lot identification is not necessary if the date (day and month) of minimum durability or "use by" date, appears in uncoded form on the label.
|European Parliament and Council Directive 1999/103/EC
Directive 80/181/EEC on units of measurement,
allows the use of both metric and imperial units on the same label for products sold in the European Union
|Nutrition labeling rules are laid down in
90/496/EEC. Nutrition labeling is not mandatory in the EU unless a nutrition claim is made on the
label or in advertising messages. "Nutrition labeling" means any information on
the label that relates to energy value and to the following nutrients: protein,
carbohydrate, fat, fiber, sodium, vitamins and minerals present in significant amounts.
Commission Directive 2008/100/EC amends Council Directive 90/496/EEC as
regards recommended daily allowances, energy conversion factors and
A "nutrition claim" means any representation or advertising that claims that a foodstuff has particular nutrition properties and is only allowed if it relates to the energy value and/or nutrients referred to above.
Where nutrition labeling is provided, the information to be given should consist of either group 1 or group 2 in the following order:
The energy value and the proportion of nutrients must be declared in specific units per 100 grams or per 100 milliliters. Information on vitamins and minerals must be expressed as a percentage of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).
The information on the label must be presented in tabular form with the numbers aligned or if space does not permit, in linear form in a language easily understood by the purchaser.
In June 2007, the EU adopted
a new framework regulation (Regulation
834/2007) on organic production and labeling. Measures for the
implementation of Regulation 834/2007 were published on September 18,
The new rules enter into force on January 1, 2009. For more information see
E48106 "Organic Food Labeling - New EU Rules".
Commission Regulation 608/2004 lays down labeling requirements for
foods and food ingredients with added phytosterols, phytosterol esters,
phytostanols and phytostanol esters (used to reduce cholesterol levels).
For labeling purposes, phytosterols, phytosterol esters, phytostanols and
phytostanol esters must be designated respectively by the terms "plant
sterols", "plant sterol esters", "plant stanols" or "plant stanol esters".
|Quantitative ingredients declaration is mandatory in the following cases:
The QUID declaration must be indicated in or immediately next to the name under which the product is sold unless a list of ingredients is voluntarily indicated on the label in which case the quantity may appear in the list. The quantity of the ingredient, expressed as a percentage, must correspond to the quantity of the ingredient(s) actually used in the preparation of the product.
The QUID requirement DOES NOT apply to constituents naturally present in foods and which have not been added as ingredients e.g. caffeine (in coffee) and vitamins and minerals (in fruit juices). QUID declarations are not needed in a number of cases, e.g. when products state the drained net weight or where an ingredient is used for purposes of flavoring. QUID declarations CANNOT replace nutrition labeling.
Commission Directive 1999/10/EC provides for derogations from the QUID requirement:
Commission Directive 2002/67/EC, scheduled to come into force by July
2004, requires the compulsory labeling of quinine and caffeine when they
have been used in the production or preparation of foodstuffs (usually tonic
waters and energy drinks). Quinine and caffeine must be mentioned in
the ingredients list, preceded by the term "flavoring". Beverages
containing more than 150 mg of caffeine per liter will have to be labeled
with "high caffeine content", followed by the caffeine content expressed in
Council Directive 76/211/EEC
(amended by Commission Directive 78/891/EEC)
specifies the maximum tolerable error between the actual content and the
quantity indicated on the label of prepackaged products.
This directive applies to prepackages containing products intended for sale in constant unit nominal quantities which are:
The nominal quantity (weight or volume) must be indicated on all prepackages made up in accordance with this directive. The EEC sign, a small "e" of at least 3 mm high placed in the same field of vision, constitutes a guarantee by the packer or importer that the prepackage meets the requirements of this directive.
Compliance with this directive is not mandatory but
free movement throughout the EU is guaranteed for prepackaged products that do
comply with the provisions of the directive.
On August 1, 2009, the final phase of the EU
Wine Reform covering oenological practices, designations of origin and
labeling entered into force. For detailed information see
FAS Report "New EU Wine Labeling Rules" (published September 2009).