Hi there food allergy friends from all over the world, but especially those in Luxembourg and other EU countries. This topic applies to all of us and is worth getting your attention to help spread the word.
I’m curious, are you as confused by the labels on food packaging as I am? Do you struggle with the inconsistency of formats used, from package to package? Do you wonder what the chef added to that dish you are about to eat? Are you concerned about food orders online and the true content and origin of that product? Pressed meats, dairy products, packaged foods, bakery delights, candies, salads and any other prepared or manufactured food stuffs are all places for allergens to exist as we all know.
If any of these questions and more have run through your mind while navigating food choices based allergens or particular diet choices then you are going to really love what I have to share. I have been so excited about this and can hardly wait for you to have this truly valuable information in your hands!
What’s The Great News?
A while back, I heard a little remark about labels and food allergens and that change was coming. It was a one-off comment with no details so I put it aside. Then, in the last year I started noticing, in increasing numbers, that restaurants were offering a food allergen key and/or supplemental ingredient information on the menus. It seemed a bit unusual but exciting at the same time because it afforded me the ability to dine out with more options and confidence. Finally, when I was traveling in Germany a few weeks ago I saw this notice posted in the elevator of our hotel.
I was so excited to read this and filled with curiosity that as soon as I got on my computer I started researching like crazy. I spent several days reading through loads of EU Commission documents that lead to the final resolution for the passage of this regulation. I was finally able to connect the bits of information that had trickled down to me and put it all together.
Below are some snippets as they appear in documentation from the EU Commission’s website. I tried to focus on a few key points to keep it from being too overwhelming. Be sure to check out the links at the end for the complete details.
New EU law on food information to consumers
The new Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers entered into application on 13 December 2014. The obligation to provide nutrition information will apply from 13 December 2016.
The new law combines 2 Directives into one legislation:
…And for all those who skim read the legal stuff, here’s the lowdown: It was passed in 2014 and will come into effect in 2016.
There are a lot of amazing initiatives introduced in this combined piece of legislation that consumers will really appreciate. For those of us with food allergies, I want to highlight the most valuable aspect in this regulation; being informed about the specific allergens that exist in any food stuff being sold within the EU. This includes companies outside the EU selling to EU sources as well as online ordering.
- Clearer and harmonised presentation of allergens (e.g. soy, nuts, gluten, lactose) for prepacked foods (emphasis by font, style or background colour) in the list of ingredients
- Mandatory allergen information for non-prepacked food, including in restaurants and cafes
- Strengthened rules to prevent misleading practices
- Indication of substitute ingredient for ‘Imitation’ foods
- Same labelling requirements for online, distance-selling or buying in a shop
I think you get the idea of the changes coming into full effect December 2016. Lots of restaurants, manufacturers and food industry people are already gearing up, making necessary changes and putting some of it into practice already. We’ll all see the continued improvements over the next year and most certainly benefit from it.
Credit: All the animated pictures above are from an infographic published by the EU Commission, on their website. This is where you can see the full infographic with information regarding all the other changes as well. I would highly recommend that you take a look; it’s quite helpful. This is the document where all the snippets of information came from. Finally, this is the full press release version of this information.