Small food firms hit hardest by mandatory nutritional labelling

Mandatory nutrition labelling requirements are likely to hit smaller food companies hardest, international policy specialist EAS has warned.

Food companies have five years to implement the mandatory nutrition labelling rules of the European Union’s Food Information to Consumers Regulation published this week (22 November).

The clock starts ticking towards the five-year deadline for nutrition labelling requirements 20 days after publication— 13 December 2011.

While most aspects of the regulation become applicable on 13 December 2014, companies have been given an extended transition period until 13 December 2016 to get in line with nutrition labelling requirements.

Commenting, Xavier Lavigne, food law manager at EAS, said: “The new food labelling regulation means inevitable changes for companies,” said Mr Lavigne. “The costs of conforming to the mandatory nutrient content rules will most likely hit the smaller food companies more than the larger ones, as many of the larger companies already have some type of nutrition labelling which will simply need to be adapted.”

One of the challenges manufacturers will face will be pack designs — the regulation introduces a minimum font size of 1.2mm for all mandatory label information, and 0.9mm for products where packaging has a largest surface of less than 80cm2. For manufacturers it means that knowing how to use the space on certain packages will be key.

Lavigne continued: “Already some companies are looking into the creation of understandable symbols in order to gain space and to deal with multilingual challenges. Most companies in the food sector will be pressured into a detailed review of their product packaging in the months and years to come.”