Europe: Commission notice for indicating the country of origin or place of provenance of the primary ingredient of a food

The European Commission published on 31 January 2020 a Notice on the application of the provisions of Article 26(3) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011, in order to provide guidelines for food business operators and national authorities on the application of the provisions of Article 26(3), and the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/775 of 28 May 2018 laying down rules for the application on the provision of food information to consumers, as regards the rules for indicating the country of origin or place of provenance of the primary ingredient of a food.

This notice indicates particularly:

  • Article 26(3) sets out two conditions for the application of specific labelling requirements for primary ingredients: (1) the existence of an indication of the country of origin or place of provenance of the final food; and (2) that such indication of the country of origin or place of provenance of a food is not the same as that of its primary ingredient. As example:
    • The statements such as ‘made in (country)’, ‘manufactured in (country)’, ‘produced in (country)’, are associated by consumers with an origin indication within the meaning of Article 26(3) and therefore, in principle, should be seen as indicating the country of origin or place of provenance of a food.
    • The statement ‘packed in’ clearly indicates the place where a food has been packed and, in general, as such is not likely to imply for the consumer an origin indication in the meaning of Article 26(3) of the Regulation.

  • Article 26(3) does not apply to organic products with the EU logo (the provisions of the Regulation on organic foods require already an indication of the place of provenance of agriculture raw materials and prevail over Article 26(3)).

  • For the identification of the primary ingredient(s), food business operators are required to provide information about the primary ingredient(s) of the food in question:
    • on the basis of the legal definition of the primary ingredient (two types of criteria (a) a quantitative one, according to which the ingredient represents more than 50 % of the food; and (b) a qualitative one, according to which the ingredient is usually associated by the consumers with the name of the food)
    • taking into account quantitative composition of the food, its specific characteristics, nature and the entire presentation of the label
    • considering the consumers’ perception and expectations
    • taking into consideration whether the origin indication of a particular ingredient is likely to substantially affect consumers’ purchasing decisions and whether the absence of such an origin indication would mislead consumers.

  • The origin indication of the primary ingredient must be presented in a clear and visible way for the consumers, always in the same field of vision as the product origin indication(in case the sale denomination containing an origin indication or flags is repeated on the packaging, the information on the origin of the primary ingredient(s) needs also to be repeated accordingly).

This Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/775 shall apply from 1 April 2020. Foods placed on the market or labelled prior to the date of application of this Regulation may be marketed until the stocks are exhausted.

In conclusion, for each product with an indication of the country of origin or place of provenance of the final food (for example a flag or “Made in”) a case-by-case analysis is necessary to identify the primary ingredient(s) (to be justified in the case of control), and if necessary add origin indication of the identified primary ingredient(s).
Note: sectoral guidelines may have been developed by professional associations, for application adapted according to the types of products.

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