EU labelling laws: What should be exempt?

Ireland to set legal definition of 'small quantity' foods

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock / Anetlanda
Photo: iStock / Anetlanda
Ireland is calling on food operators to help create a legal definition of 'small quantity' foods which would be exempt from EU mandatory labelling laws.

Food manufacturers, retailers and other interested parties can voice their opinion by completing the online questionnaire​ ​before 22 August 2016. The consultation has been running since mid-July and an FSAI spokesperson said a number of submissions had already been received, but could not confirm numbers.

In December 2014, rules laid out in the EU’s Food Information to Consumers​ (EUFIC) regulation came into effect.

food label scrutiny unhealthy
© iStock

Some foods are exempt from the rules, such as unprocessed products made of a single ingredient; herb and spice mixes; flavourings and additives and teas. Also on the list of exempt products iwas: “Food, including handcrafted food, directly supplied by the manufacturer of small quantities of products to the final consumer or to local retail establishments directly supplying the final consumer.”

However the EU has not provided a definition of how much a ‘small quantity’ is nor what ‘local’ means, instead asking each member state to provide a definition for its local market.

While Ireland does have a legal definition for ‘local’ there is no precedent to define ‘small quantities’, said the FSAI.

“[Therefore] the primary aim of this consultation is to determine such a definition to provide certainty and assist compliance among food businesses when the legislation comes into effect.”

Have your say

FSAI Chief Executive Dr Pamela Byrne said the consultation gave all interested parties the opportunity to give their view on what an acceptable definition of ‘small quantities’ should be.

Criteria could include the weight of the product, amount of sales or number of units, she said.

cheese artisan
Traditional, artisan or farmhouse? © iStock

This definition will be ultimately transposed into Irish law and is likely to have an impact on food producers and retailers,” ​Bryne added.

When the consultation closes it will pass on the submissions to the Department of Health which will then decide what the definition should be. 

In May last year the FSAI published guidance on using the terms artisan, traditional, farmhouse and natural when marketing their food. While the definitions are not legally binding nor set in stone they were drawn up in order nip instances of misleading marketing in the bud and prevent such cases from going before a court.

Under the terms of the EUFIC regulation, food operators were given until 13 December 2016 to prepare for mandatory nutrition information on pre-packaged foods.

To read the definitions, click here.

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1 comment

Exemption only relates to Nutrition information

Posted by Paul,

Annex V of FIC provides the exemption small quantities of handcrafted food only in relation to nutritional information, not all the mandatory information. Article 44 allows national rules to apply to non-prepacked and prepacked for direct sale regardless of size of business.

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