Nutrition in the form of sugar content has come under media spotlight again recently with the new government childhood obesity strategy criticised by a celebrity chef in a Channel 4 “Dispatches” programme. The strategy confirms the well-publicised “sugar tax” on soft drinks but does not go so far as to ban adverts on “unhealthy food” during programmes commonly watched by children, or the promotion of sweets at supermarket checkouts.
In the wake of all this attention, it is worth remembering that the legal requirements in relation to nutrition information on foods change in December 2016 in any event, under EU Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (the “EU FIC”). As a Regulation, the provisions are directly applicable in all Member States, including the UK. Post Brexit, the future applicability of this Regulation is as yet uncertain, but at the very least in the interim period it will continue to govern the provision of food information in the UK.
The EU FIC came largely into force on 13 December 2014. The regulations required food business operators to: (i) make allergen information available for non-pre-packed/loose foods for the first time; (ii) highlight allergens in lists of ingredients for pre-packed foods; (iii) ensure food information is more legible (for example by introducing a minimum font size on labels); and (iv) include mandatory origin labelling in certain circumstances. However, the EU FIC will also require a mandatory nutrition declaration for most pre-packed products from 13 December 2016.