Public consultation on food labelling opened

A public consultation calling for views and feedback on the proposed revision of a number of food labelling issues has been opened today (Thursday, February 11).

The consultation – titled the ‘Food Information to Consumers – Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling, Nutrient Profiles, Origin Labelling and Date Marking’ – was opened on behalf of the Department of Health by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).

This, the FSAI says, seeks to gather information and opinions which will inform the national position on EU food labelling reforms “that will enable consumers to make more informed choices when selecting food”.

Anyone can provide opinion to the FSAI through its online consultation. The consultation is open from today through to Thursday, March 25, 2021 – and the Department of Health is keen to secure food businesses’ and consumers’ viewpoints in Ireland.

The feedback from the consultation will help establish a national position, which will then feed into the European Commission’s proposal to harmonise mandatory food labelling, as part of its Farm to Fork Strategy under the European Green Deal.

According to the FSAI, the objective is to “establish labelling information that is clear and will aid consumers to choose healthy diets to benefit health and quality of life”.

The European Commission has already published an inception impact assessment and intends to publish a further public consultation later in the year.

Currently, EU labelling regulations provide for a high level of consumer protection in relation to food information and food labelling.

The key areas under review and where the public consultation is seeking comment include:
  • Front of pack labelling: A proposal for mandatory coordinated front-of-pack nutrition labelling;
  • Nutrient profiles: Establishing the setting of ‘nutrient profiles’ which would ultimately reduce and restrict the use of nutrition and health claims to promote food with high fat, sugar and/or salt;
  • Origin labelling: Consideration to 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’) to support a reduction in food waste.

According to Dr. Pamela Byrne, chief executive of the FSAI, the consultation is an important opportunity for opinions in Ireland to be heard and regarded now, so that stakeholders’ feedback can be considered for new regulations on the labelling of foods that may ensue.

“Food labelling is an important tool that provides information for consumers. The plans to review and potentially revise the EU food labelling legislation may have an impact on the food industry and its product packaging,” she added.

For those interested, the consultation questionnaire can be completed here.