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Frozen Lithuanian “Cepelinai” with Polish potatoes

1 April 2020: In cases where the origin of a food product is indicated the origin of primary ingredients must also appear on the label.

To avoid misleading consumers, EU Regulation 2018/775 details obligations to label information about the origin of food products included in Art. 26 of Regulation 1169/2011.

1. What is the essence?

If a prepackaged food product indicates its origin and the primary ingredient stems from another country or another region, the origin of the primary ingredient needs to be stated on the packaging as well.

2. What does given the ‘country of origin’ or the ‘place of provenance’ of a food mean?

Given means that the country of origin or the place of provenance is referred to by any means such as statements, pictorial presentation, symbols or words. 

So, even the flag or a map of a country might be enough to indicate a certain country or region. 

In addition, terms such as ‘made in’, ‘produced in’ and ‘product of’ followed by a geographical statement may in principle trigger application of the new requirements.

The place of provenance means any place where a food is indicated to come from, and that is not the ‘country of origin’. This could be a town, a region or a group of countries.

3. Are there any exemptions?

Yes. Several situations do not require additional labelling.

Examples:

Statements such as ‘kind’, ‘type’, ‘style’, ‘inspired by’ or ‘à la’ usually refer to a recipe for or specific characteristics of a food or the way it is processed. They should in principle not be considered as an indication of origin. 

The same is true for customary names such as Frankfurter sausages or Wiener Schnitzel.

4. What is a primary ingredient?

An ingredient:

  • that represents more than 50% of that food or
  • that consumers would usually associate with the name of the food and for which in most cases a quantitative indication is required.

5. Who is responsible?

Primarily, a food business operator of the food product.

However, online traders might be obliged to show additional information about primary ingredients. This should be checked.

6. What needs to be done?

In cases where the new requirements apply, a food business operator must either:

  • indicate the country of origin or the place of provenance of the primary ingredient or
  • indicate that the primary ingredient does not stem from the country of origin or the place of provenance indicated on the food product.

The information can be expressed by the following:

  • words
  • numbers
  • pictograms
  • symbols.

If information on the origin of the food product is indicated in words, the primary ingredient must always be indicated in words. Country codes might be acceptable only if the consumer would correctly understand it and not be misled. 

Information should be easily visible and clearly legible and where appropriate indelible. 

If the product name includes an indication of origin and appears in several places on the packaging, the indication of origin of the primary ingredient should be added to those same places.

There are several further formal requirements.

7. Do these rules apply to all food products on the market from 1 April 2020?

In principle yes.

But food products placed on the market or labelled prior to the date of application of the Regulation may be marketed until stocks are exhausted.


Our bnt attorneys in CEE office in Vilnius / Lithuania looks forward to replying to all further questions you might have.