The Chilled Foods Association (CFA) fears that the cost of complying with new EU labelling rules could run into millions of British pounds.
The Food Information Regulation (FIR) was designed to make food labelling easier to understand for consumers, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA). But CFA highlighted the costs involved.
Kaarin Goodburn, secretary general of the Chilled Food Association, said that new labelling regulations spells bad news for food firms. Goodburn added that manufacturers will now have to rethink the packaging of all products on sale. For the membership of CFA alone, the expenses could extend into seven figures.
The FIR, published by the European Union, requires manufacturers to print mandatory information on all food and drink products sold within the EU. That information must include a product's nutritional value, its origin, and its allergy information.
The new labelling rules will become mandatory, for all values except nutrition, from 2014. The rules for nutrition will be enforced from 2016.
Goodburn predicted that the manufacturers of small-scale food and drink products would be hardest hit.
The new rules include:
- Country of origin. The introduction of mandatory origin information for most fresh and frozen meat. (Also, the origin of main ingredients will have to be given if different from where the final product is made).
- Nutrition labelling for most foods. Simplified information may be provided voluntarily on front of pack.
- Labelling clarity. A minimum print size has been set for all mandatory information on most food labels.
- Allergen information will have to be provided on all food.
- Drinks with high caffeine content will have to be labelled as not recommended for children, or pregnant and breastfeeding women. The caffeine content must be quoted.
- Meat and fish products that look like a cut, joint or slice and contain more than 5% added water will have to show this in the name of the food.
- The types of vegetable oil used in food, such as palm oil, must be stated.
Source: Chilled Foods Association (CFA)