A new regulation has been accepted and will go into effect in late December, creating a standard format for nutrition labels on packaged food and beverage products in the EU. From font size to content, the new law will make it easier for European consumers to read and compare food labels.
The Council of the European Union has approved and adopted a new regulation obliging food and beverage manufacturers across the EU to label their products with nutritional information presented to minimum legibility standards.
The decision means the new law—the Regulation on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers—will officially come into force 20 days after it is published in the Official Journal of the EU, which is expected to be at the end of November.
Among the measures in the new regulation, which harmonizes labeling rules across the EU for the first time, is a stipulation that pre-packed food and beverage products must display how much energy, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, protein, sugars and salt they contain.
This mandatory nutrition declaration will have to be expressed per 100 g or 100 ml—but can additionally be presented in a per portion format. Furthermore, the data can also be indicated as a percentage of reference intakes—or Guideline Daily Amounts—a format that has already proven popular with manufacturers and retailers across the European continent.
The regulation also establishes a minimum font size for any mandatory text in an effort to ensure clarity for consumers. This is 1.2 mm for the height of a letter ‘x’, but if the largest surface of a package is smaller than 80 cm2 (12.4in2) then the minimum font size is reduced to 0.9 mm.
Companies will have a long time to adapt to the measures in the regulation—five years in the case of the mandatory nutrition declaration.
FoodAndDrinkEurope, the trade association for Europe’s food and beverage industry (formerly CIAA), welcomed the adoption of the regulation by the Council.
Jesús Serafín Pérez, president of the organization, said: “FoodDrinkEurope looks forward to working with EU decision-makers to ensure the regulation is implemented in the coming years, providing consumers with the information needed to make the right choices and promoting the industry’s competitiveness.”