I have been putting off writing this blog post for some weeks, but with the new year upon us its time to delve into of one the latest pieces of EU legislation that will come into force this year. I am speaking of the Food Information Regulations (FIR) 2013 , the UK implementation of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (‘FIC’). Stay with me….
What is this about?
The FIR 2013 is the first comprehensive review of how food is labelled since 1979, and changes the way that food is described on packaging.
The FIR 2013 is going to change the way that all food is labelled in the UK, and almost all food labels and food packaging is going to need to be redesigned to comply. There are going to be a lot of busy graphic and packaging designers out there in 2013.
- Pre 2011 – the variety of legislation we run in the UK on food labelling was formed
- 25 October 2011 – REGULATION (EU) No 1169/2011 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL was adopted outlining the requirements of the new UK law
- 7 November 2012 – the UK consultation to enable the provisions of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (‘FIC’) to become UK law was launched, under rules to be know as the Food Information Regulations (FIR) 2013
- 30 January 2013 – the FIR 2013 consultation closes, and the final UK legislation will be published shortly afterwards
- 6 April 2013 – the new UK FIR 2013 legislation is drafted to come into effect
- 13 December 2013 – some aspects of REGULATION (EU) No 1169/2011 become in force relating to country of origin (Article 26.8)
- 1 January 2014 – Rules on the composition and labelling of minced meat come into force
- 13 December 2014 -The general labelling rules come into force, and if provided, a nutrition declaration must use the format set out in the EU FIC from this date. Basically as I understand it all food labelled after this date in the UK must comply with the new FIR regulations.
- 13 December 2016 – Rules on the mandatory nutrition declaration are needed for most pre-packaged foods from this date.
I’m not sure at the moment… The detailed FIR 2013 proposals can be downloaded here, but may be subject to change after the end of the consultation procedure so it would be dangerous to redesign label based only on the consultation at the moment.
There are some interesting changes, such as the minimum core font height on all label text is 1.2mm (where x=1.2mm on the diagram below – Article 13.2 of 1169/2011)
and there is a new set standard for layout of ingredients, which will certainly impact many label designs.
What problems and solutions are raised by FIR 2013 as far as labels are concerned.
Simply put the issue is…
To get all the new information on a label is going to take more space, requiring bigger labels (which unforunately equates to more cost), double sided labels or other clever solutions (watch this space for new innovations from Mercian Labels to come soon)
This is clearly a significant area of uncertainty at present, but we expect confirmation of the new regulations in the next few months. In any event UK food label manufacturers should prepare to redesign their food labels, cartons and flexible packaging and engage with their packaging designers to plan to design in compliance.
If you wish to minimise the costs of changing your designs and are currently using flexo printing then we would urge you to contact us to migrate to digital labelling – as there is no plates or setup cost with digital, its FDA approved foodsafe for direct food contact and you can mix and match as many designs as you like with every order to minimise obsolete labels and maximise the potential or short run promotions.
What to be kept in touch with developments on FIR 2013?
We are planning a number of FIR 2013 information documents and events in the coming months – if you are interested in finding our more please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you invitations to our FIR 2013 events when places become available.
Then please leave a comment below!
Update 18 February 2013
Draft guidelines on “Questions and Answers on the application of the Regulation (EU) N° 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers” are now available to download.