The FIC is making plenty of work for us, too!
By Ruth Price - 31 October 2013
Food legislation is a complex area, with plenty of pitfalls for the unwary. In order to manage hygiene systems, meet additive controls or fully and accurately label products, food business operators need to be able to get hold of accurate food legislation advice to help them get it right. This applies to both the food giants and small enterprises alike!
One new piece of European legislation in particular is causing food companies to seek our advice and is keeping me and my colleagues busy. The European Union's Food Information to Consumers (FIC) Regulation came into force in December 2011 and introduces changes that will mean that almost every food and drink label will need a major overhaul before the end of 2014.
We can advise on what changes to food labels are going to be required – covering, for example, nutrition labelling, allergen labelling, font size, and country–of–origin – but time is beginning to run out and businesses need to make sure they are on top of the game. Have a listen to our podcast, or read our white paper to make sure that you have considered everything relevant to you*. It is a complex area: there are certain exemptions to the general requirements, and exceptions to these exemptions! There are different transition periods for certain new requirements, and there are additional rules to be laid down in still-awaited implementing regulations. Now more than ever businesses need authoritative advice and we have a team of highly experienced experts ready to give that advice and help them interpret the legislation.
The advice can take many forms. Some companies go for a full label review and submit their artwork for comment. However, the reviews can be conducted at any stage in the product development cycle, right from the concept stage. Early review is an effective way of forewarning of potential difficulties and suggesting practical alternatives to ensure full compliance. Labels are reviewed against the full range of relevant EU and UK legislation, and additional comments are given where there are impending changes. With the FIC, there are plenty of these at the moment! Associated guidance from government and industry, and all known and relevant case law and enforcement opinions are considered during the process.
Although labelling is always a hot topic, companies in the food industry have many other concerns, such as the recent changes to food additives controls, which have brought three old Directives together into one Regulation. This is a subject of regular enquiries, particularly when looking for the right food category to place a product in, or for the maximum permitted level of a specific additive in a food.
Getting the right legislative advice can help businesses market food that is safe to consume, and provide the consumer with legally compliant information on the packages, enabling them to make informed choices. Getting it wrong can be a costly exercise for a business – with the potential for legal proceedings and loss of business. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!