The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has unveiled new food labelling regulation to allow consumers to get the information they need to help them make informed choices about the products they purchase.
The new Regulation No (EU) 1169/2011, which is set to come into force from 13 December 2014, will cover activities concerning the provision of food information to consumers, including through internet marketing.
FSAI Food Science and Standards director Dr Wayne Anderson said the functionality of the internet offers more alternatives for consumers to access information, either through advertising or by supporting websites.
"The new rules recognise that the food label itself is not the only means of communicating information on food to consumers," Anderson said.
Applicable to food businesses at all stages of the food chain, the regulation addresses various issues such as font size, allergen labelling of non-prepacked foods, nutrition declaration, front of pack labelling and origin labelling.
The regulation specifies that mandatory food information must be marked in a prominent place in such a way as to be easily visible, clearly legible and indelible.
The list of mandatory information, including product name, a list of ingredients, net weight, date of minimum durability, which should be provided for all foods set out in the current rules, is maintained in the new regulation.
According to the FSAI, the name of the product, the net food quantity and the actual alcoholic strength by volume for beverages containing more than 1.2% by volume of alcohol must appear in the same field of vision, under the new regulation.
The regulation, which also introduces additional requirements regarding the product name with specific indications, allows for the grouping of refined oils and fats of vegetable origin together in the list of ingredients, under the title 'vegetable oils' or 'vegetable fats.'
The regulation also requires a mention of the date of freezing or the date of first freezing for frozen meat, frozen meat preparations and frozen unprocessed fishery products.
Country of origin labelling, which is mandatory for certain products such as beef, fish, honey, olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables now, will also be extended to the meat of pigs, sheep, goats and poultry, according to the regulation.