Food for Thought – FSAI Launches Consultation on Food Labelling

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (“FSAI”) has launched a public consultation seeking views on front-of-pack nutrition labelling, nutrient profiles, origin labelling and date marking. Feedback on the consultation will inform the national position on mandatory harmonised food labelling at an EU level, giving food businesses, consumers and other stakeholders the opportunity to identify any issues relating to food labelling identified post-Brexit.

On 11 February 2021, the FSAI opened its ‘Food Information to Consumers - Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling, Nutrient Profiles, Origin Labelling and Date Marking’ consultation (the “Consultation”), on behalf of the Department of Health.

The outcome of the Consultation will feed into the European Commission’s proposal to harmonise mandatory food labelling as part of its Farm to Fork initiative, under the so-called ‘European Green Deal’.  The Farm to Fork initiative aims to promote fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food systems by highlighting that the provision of clear information on food labels enables consumers to choose healthier and more sustainable diets, which in turn benefits their quality of life and reduces health-related expenditure.

In order for stakeholder feedback to be considered as part of any new food labelling regulations that may follow, the Consultation seeks comment from the public on the following key areas which are under review:

  • Front-of-pack labelling: a proposal for mandatory coordinated front-of-pack nutrition labelling.
  • Nutrient profiles: determining the setting of nutrient profiles (the method of classifying or ranking foods according to their nutrient composition) which would reduce and restrict the use of health or nutrition claims to market foods high in saturated fat, sugar and/or salt.
  • Origin labelling: considering the extension of mandatory origin or provenance labelling to certain products.
  • Date marking: a revision of the current EU rules on date marking (‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates) to tackle their misuse and reduce food waste.

Stakeholders’ submissions on labelling requirements may also be informed by issues relating to food labelling identified post-Brexit and in particular, any complications which may have arisen concerning issues such as origin and provenance in Ireland’s all-island economy.

What’s next?

The consultation is open until 25 March 2021 and submissions may be made by way of online questionnaire available here.  A report on the results of the consultation will be prepared by the FSAI and shared with the Department of Health.

The European Commission is committed to adopting a proposal for EU-wide food labelling by the end of 2022, and any developments will be monitored closely.

This document has been prepared by McCann FitzGerald LLP for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. Such advice should always be taken before acting on any of the matters discussed.