Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 (The General Food Law Regulation) is the foundation of food and feed law and contains some general principles that are also relevant to the provision of food information.
The Regulation provides the basis for the assurance of a high level of protection of human health and consumers' interest in relation to food. Food law shall aim at the protection of the interests of consumers and shall provide a basis for consumers to make informed choices in relation to the foods they consume. It shall aim at the prevention of fraudulent or deceptive practices, the adulteration of food and any other practices which may mislead the consumer (Article 1 par. 1 and Article 8).
It also stipulates that the labelling, advertising and presentation of food, including their shape, appearance or packaging, the packaging materials used, the manner in which they are arranged and the setting in which they are displayed, and the information which is made available about them through whatever medium, shall not mislead consumers. (Article 16).
Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 lays down provisions on fair information practices. Food information shall not mislead the public, particularly:
- as to the characteristics of the food and, in particular, as to its nature, identity, properties, composition, quantity, durability, country of origin or place of provenance, method of manufacture or production (Article 7 (1)(a))
- by attributing to the food effects or properties which it does not possess (Article 7 (1)(b))
- by suggesting that the food possesses special characteristics when in fact all similar foods possess such characteristics, in particular by specifically emphasising the presence or absence of certain ingredients and/or nutrients (Article 7 (1)(c))
- by suggesting, by means of the appearance, the description or pictorial representations, the presence of a particular food or an ingredient, while in reality a component naturally present or an ingredient normally used in that food has been substituted with a different component or a different ingredient (Article 7 (1)(d)).
Food information shall be accurate, clear and easy for the consumer to understand (Article 7, par. 2).
Subject to derogations provided for by Union law applicable to natural mineral waters and foods for particular nutritional uses, food information shall not attribute to any food the property of preventing, treating or curing a human disease, nor refer to such properties (Article 7, par. 3).
The aforementioned provisions apply to the advertising and the presentation of foods, in particular their shape, appearance or packaging materials used, the way in which they are arranged and the setting in which they are displayed (Article 7, par. 4).