Regulation (EC) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (FIC Regulation) establishes the general principles, requirements and responsibilities governing food information, and in particular food labelling. It provides the basis to assure a high level of consumer protection in relation to food information.
On 20 May 2020, the European Commission adopted the Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system as part of the European Green Deal. The Farm to Fork Strategy sets out that clear information making it easier for consumers to choose healthy and sustainable diets will benefit their health and quality of life, and reduce health-related costs.
The Farm to Fork Strategy announces that the Commission will propose harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling to enable consumers to make informed and health-conscious food choices. The conclusions of the Commission's report on front-of-pack nutrition labelling ((COM2020) 207 final) can be found here.
The Farm to Fork strategy further announces that the European Commission will set up nutrient profiles to restrict the promotion (via nutrition and health claims) of foods high in fat, sugars and/or salt. The setting of nutrient profiles will facilitate the shift to healthier diets and stimulate food reformulation.
The European Commission will also consider proposing the extension of mandatory origin or provenance indications to certain products, while fully taking into account the impacts on the single market. This action would allow consumers to better identify the origin of food and facilitate consumers' informed and sustainable food choices.
A European Commission study published in 2018 concluded that up to 10% of all food waste generated in the EU could be linked to date marking ("best before" and "use by" dates). Therefore, the Farm to Fork Strategy announces that the Commission will revise existing EU rules on date marking to address the misunderstanding and misuse of the "use by" and "best before" dates in particular.
The European Commission adopted the "Europe's Beating Cancer Plan" on 3 February 2021. The plan announces that the Commission will propose to introduce the mandatory indication of the list of ingredients and the nutrition declaration on labels of all alcoholic beverages.
To follow-up on the announcements made in the Farm-to-Fork Strategy and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, the European Commission is carrying out an impact assessment related to a proposal for a revision of the FIC Regulation in the areas of front-of-pack nutrition labelling, nutrient profiles, origin labelling, date marking and labelling of alcoholic beverages (list of ingredients and nutrition declaration). The impact assessment evaluates and compares the potential impacts of different policy options to identify a preferred option or policy mix that best addresses the overall objective.
Inception Impact Assessments
On 23 December 2020, the European Commission published an inception impact assessment on front-of-pack nutrition labelling and nutrient profiles, origin labelling and date marking outlining the Commission's initial analysis of the problems, policy objectives and different solutions as well as the likely impacts:
- Food labelling - revision of rules on information provided to consumers
- Facilitating healthier food choices – establishing nutrient profiles
An inception impact assessment informs citizens and stakeholders about the Commission's plans and allows them to participate effectively in consultation activities by providing early feedback on the intended initiative.
The public consultation on the Commission's inception impact assessment was open until 4 February 2021 and the feedback can be found here.
Additionally, the European Commission published on 24 June 2021 an inception impact assessment on the labelling of alcoholic beverages (list of ingredients and nutrition declaration) outlining the Commission's initial analysis of the problems, policy objectives and different solutions as well as the likely impacts. The public consultation on the Commission's inception impact assessment was open from 24 June 2021 until 22 July 2021 and the feedback can be found here.
Study supporting the Impact Assessment
An external study was launched in August 2021 to support the Commission’s Impact Assessment. The study runs for 9 months and helps to collect evidence and data for the analysis of the economic, social and environmental impacts of the proposed policy options.
During the course of this study, the Commission is inviting citizens and stakeholders to contribute to different consultations. The objective of these consultation activities is to support the Commission’s impact assessment by gathering citizens’ and stakeholders’ views while also collecting additional data.
On 13 December 2021, the Commission launched a 12-week open public consultation to consult all citizens and stakeholders via its ‘Have your say’ portal. The public consultation covered the different initiatives for revising EU legislation on food information to consumers in the area of front-of-pack nutrition labelling / nutrient profiles, origin labelling, date marking and the labelling of alcoholic beverages. Citizens and stakeholders were invited to share their views and experiences on the main obstacles they are facing in the different food labelling areas under consideration and on possible ways to overcome these obstacles. The public consultation was open until 7 March 2022 and received 3225 contributions. A factual summary report of the open public consultation is available here.
In addition, the Commission launched targeted surveys for businesses and business associations, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), national competent authorities and consumer/ health organisations. The targeted surveys were open for five weeks from 14 February 2022 until 18 March 2022 and received 200 contributions.
The European Commission asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to provide scientific advice for the development of harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling and the setting of nutrient profiles for restricting nutrition and health claims on foods. Following its adoption on 24 March 2022, EFSA’s scientific opinion was published in the EFSA Journal on 19 April 2022 and can be found here:
- EFSA’s scientific advice to inform harmonised front-of-pack nutrition labelling and restriction of claims on foods
On 9 September 2022, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) published four reports, which synthesise the current scientific evidence regarding front-of-pack nutrition labelling, origin labelling and digital means to convey food information, as well as analyse the market in terms of labelling of alcoholic beverages. The studies include:
- Literature review on front-of-pack nutrition labelling
- Literature review on origin labelling
- Literature review on food information through digital means
- Market analysis on the labelling of alcoholic beverages
The findings of the reports are part of the evidence base informing the impact assessment. Look here for the Commission’s Daily News on the publication of the reports.