Country of Origin Labelling Requirements

Katie Paterson

February 15, 2021

In April 2020, new rules were put in place regarding the criteria for country of origin and place of provenance labelling.

Food business operators, must provide an indication of the country of origin or place of provenance where failure to indicate this might mislead the consumer as to the true country of origin or place of provenance of the food. There are also requirements for meat and primary ingredients where the country of origin or the place of provenance of a food is given and where it is not the same as that of its primary ingredient:

Before April 2020, you had to state the country of origin/place of provenance if the food item had any misleading text or images on the packaging implying the food came from somewhere it did not. However, from April 2020, the country of origin/place of provenance of the primary ingredient will also need to be stated.

What is a primary ingredient?

A primary ingredient is the ingredient that makes up 50% or more of a product. The primary ingredient is usually connected with the name of the food.

The country of origin or place of provenance of the primary ingredient must also be provided; but only when it differs from the origin (if given or implied) for the product as a whole.

A product’s primary ingredient could also be the name of the food that is associated with the product by consumers. For example, a chicken pie could be made up of 50% flour, but chicken is still a primary ingredient and its origin will have to be stated if the packaging misleads the consumer on where it came from.

In scope and out of scope

The Commission Implementing Regulation clarifies what type of labels are in scope, and come under the regulation, and which labels are out of scope.

“The requirement Article 26(3) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 states that where the country of origin or place of provenance of a food is given and where it is not the same as that of its primary ingredient, the country of origin or place of provenance of that primary ingredient shall be given or indicated as being different to that of the food”

So, if you are selling grapes and have labelled them “Italian grapes”, but they aren’t from Italy, you will need to specify the country of origin of the grapes.

In scope criteria

The following origin indications trigger the provisions:

1) Any written or pictorial indication, which by common understanding is an indication of origin or place of provenance of the food and is used on the front of pack as a selling point. For example, an image of a map of France, or writing “French” or “Made in France”. “Produced in” “Manufactured in” and “Made in” statements are also in scope, even though they are not specifically there as a selling point.

2) Where the product’s omission could mislead the consumer as to the true country of origin or place of provenance of the final food, clarification is needed as to where the product originates from. For example, “A pack of oven fries may be presented with the colours of the American flag and a picture of a bald-headed eagle. This could suggest to the customer the product is produced in America. If the product is not made in America, the provisions of Article 26(2)(a) in FIC would apply and the country where the food was produced should be given. If that country is different to the country the potatoes come from, the origin of the potatoes would have to also be given.”

Loose Foods – In scope

1) The implementing Regulation doesn’t directly apply to loose foods, however in the UK the Food Information Regulations 2014 require the name of the food to be given when selling loose foods. If this food’s name gives an origin indication, different from the origin of the product’s main ingredient, this must also be given.

In scope with delayed implementation

1) Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) are in the scope of this regulation if they are covered in the following Regulations: n; Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 (PDO, PGI, TSG), Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 (agricultural products), Regulation No 110/2008 (spirit drinks) and Regulation (EU) No 251/2014 (aromatised wines).

2) Trademarks – country of origin or place of provenance indications that are part of registered trademarks are in scope. However, the provisions will “only be applicable when specific rules detailing which provisions apply to those products, are adopted.” No timings have been specified for the publication of these detailed rules.

What do food businesses need to do?

If your product falls into the scope of the implementing legislation, you will need to show the country of origin/place of provenance of the food or indicate that the primary ingredient has an origin that is different to the rest of the food.

The information must be shown in the same field of vision as the indication of the country of origin of the product.

How NT Assure can help you

We are a food safety consultancy dedicated to providing trustworthy food information to your customers. One of our applications to allow us to do so is Smart Supplier. Smart Supplier is a software as a service (SaaS) which holds all product specifications in a cloud-based system.

Smart Supplier is our product specification management solution, managing all your product data in one place, including the country of origin/place of provenance of each ingredient and product.

This makes it easy to store the origin information of your products from each supplier. Even if you have hundreds of products from different suppliers Smart Supplier will configure this information into an easy to read database.

Knowing that your product information is backed up by us means that you can confidently make marketing claims on your pack copies, such as the country of origin of your products.

NT Assure has a team of technical and regulatory technologists on hand to provide check labels to ensure they are complaint with the latest legislations. Knowing that your labels are 100% accurate gives you confidence in your brand, whilst ensuring your customers are safe.

For more information, please call 01933 272089 or email info@ntassure.com.

Follow our LinkedIn for more industry updates here.

References

BRC guidelines-on-article-26(3).pdf

2019-FDE-Primary-ingredient-guidance.pdf

https://www.burges-salmon.com/news-and-insight/legal-updates/food-and-drink/new-eu-origin-labelling-rules-in-force-from-1-april-2020/