Labelling Regulations to change

13 December, 2013
Scott Kerr

Guest blogger Scott Kerr, of solicitors McClure Naismith, writes about upcoming food labelling regulations and how the changes will impact the meat industry. 

New regulations covering the labelling of food (the Food Information (Scotland) Regulations) are to be created in early 2014.  They will implement new EU-wide Regulations which aim to improve the information provided to consumers so that they are able to make informed choices about the food they buy and to update legislation to reflect current industry practice and consumer’s changing information needs.

Most of the provisions won’t become compulsory until 13 December 2014, but when the new Regulations are passed (expected to be early 2014), food producers will then have the choice of following the old or the new rules until December when the new rules will become mandatory.  Indeed, some provisions are effective earlier – for minced meat being sold in the UK which doesn’t meet the EU specification, from 1st January it must bear the “National Mark” and state it is for the UK market.

And how will the rest of these regulations affect the meat industry?  Many of the new provisions affect all food, but some are specific to meat products:-

  • It will be mandatory to specify the country of origin for fresh and frozen meat;
  • For frozen meat and frozen meat preparations, the date of freezing (or first freezing) must be stated;
  • If the water content of a product which looks like a cut/joint/slice exceeds 5%, the name of the food must disclose that water has been added;
  • Although the EU Regulations don’t apply it to non pre-packed food, the current UK requirement for a QUID Declaration will continue for meat products which are not pre-packed; are packed on the operator’s premises at the consumer’s request; or are pre-packed for direct sale;
  • Where meat products contain added protein of different animal origin, the name of the food on the packaging must disclose that.

And more general rules which will apply to all food (including meat products) include:

  • The name of the food must disclose any treatment (e.g. smoked, quick frozen, freeze-dried) where its omission could mislead the consumer;
  • Best before dates will remain compulsory, but if the phrase “use by” is used, then the product will be deemed unsafe after that date;
  • The requirement to disclose allergens will extend to non pre-packed food and the way in which allergens are to be disclosed on food labels is changing requiring them to be highlighted in the list of ingredients.

While most of these changes do not come into effect until December 2014, it makes sense to move over to the new regime sooner rather than later to ensure that packaging is amended to reflect the new regulations to avoid the last minute rush which will come from those who have not thought about things in advance.

For further information on labelling requirements, contact Scott Kerr on                  0131 272 8354 or email skerr@mcclurenaismith.comMcClure Naismith LLP are UK-wide legal advisers and members of Scotland Food and Drink. CLICK HERE to find out more. 

Customers of Acoura can also recieve techncial support from our in-house processing team, call 0131 335 6600 for more information. 

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