Changes to food information provision from December 2014
- The Food Information Regulations came into force in December 2014.
- They brought changes to the way allergen information is provided in both packaged foods and foods served by caterers.
The European Commission has published the Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 which has been adopted into UK law as the Food Information Regulations, commonly known as FIR. The regulation simplifies European food labelling by combining rules on general food and nutrition labelling into a single regulation.
The allergen information rules under the Food Information Regulations apply from 13 December 2014 and meant changes to the way packaged foods are labelled and to the way caterers provide information.
The regulations set a minimum font size for information written on pack which makes it easier to read labels. The way that allergen information is provided also changed. Allergens have to be emphasised in the ingredients list. Manufacturers will list all ingredients as they used to but will emphasise allergens (including the grains wheat, rye, barley and oats). Most manufacturers and retailers are using bold lettering.
If wheat, rye, barley or oats have been used as deliberate ingredients they will be emphasised in the ingredients list and not in an advice box. You will still see an advice box on some foods to show whether a food may contain wheat, rye, barley or oats because of contamination.
The Food Information Regulations brought big changes to the way restaurants provide information about allergens in the meals they serve. The rules apply to foods served in restaurants and also meals served in hospitals, schools, workplaces, universities and prisons and also to foods sold loose, for example in deli counters, butchers and fishmongers.
Food businesses must provide allergen information for the meals they serve. This means if a recipe uses cereals containing gluten such as wheat, rye, barley or oats in the ingredients, they will have to provide you with this information.
Allergen information for non-prepacked food can be provided in written or oral formats. Where the information is not provided written and upfront, there must be clear signposting to where the information can be found. Businesses choosing to provide information orally must ensure that there is a written notice, menu, ticket or label that is clearly visible, at the point that the customer chooses their food, to indicate that allergen information is available from a member of staff. Food businesses need to make sure that they have processes in place to ensure that the information they provide is accurate and can be checked.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have updated their advice on allergen labelling in their leaflet: Advice on food allergen labelling - How to buy food safely when you have a food allergy or intolerance.
We work with the FSA, The Department of Health and DEFRA on developments in labelling laws to influence changes for the benefit of people following a gluten-free diet. You can read about how we work in Europe in our About Us section.