‘New food labelling regulations not being enforced’

While food suppliers are spending time and money to make their products compliant to the EU Food Information for Consumers (FIC) Regulation introduced last year, food industry experts say there is “little evidence” the rules are being enforced.

Speaking at a Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum on the new regulation in London today (9 July), a panel of food labelling experts debated the effectiveness of the new rules, which were introduced in December.

The regulations call for more detailed rules around allergen labelling and country of origin and date marketing, and made nutrition information mandatory by 2016 through traffic light labelling.

For retailers like Morrison’s, this has meant converting roughly 7,000 own-brand products to be FIC compliant since 2011, according to lead product compliance manager Ashley Finney.

“The costs have been substantial to us as a business in implementing changes and packaging,” Finney said. “We also only had four weeks to make labels compliant due to the late implementation of UK regulations.”

He added that the supermarket has also faced challenges in making its online store FIC compliant.

“The boom in online food sales maybe wasn’t predicted when FIC was implemented,” he added.

While food labelling regulation used to be criminally enforced, suppliers now first receive a warning notice if they aren’t complying to the rules according to Stephen Pugh, head of food labelling, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

However, Phil Dalton, head of regulatory at Sun Branding Solutions Legal, said there is “little evidence” the regulations are even being enforced.

“Apart from regarding allergens, I’ve only heard of one improvement notice being issued,” Dalton said.

While the reason for this is unclear, David Pickering, joint lead officer of food and nutrition at the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said that improvement notices are seen as “the end of a process”, with discussions had first and agreements being reached before a notice is necessary.

Martin Kersch, executive director at the Foodservice Packaging Association, said the organisation believes the regulations are working, citing Just Eat as an example of a business getting on board. The takeaway ordering site provides clear information on allergens according to Kersch and offers an online chat where customers can ask questions about the ingredients used in their orders.

However, the lack of enforcement could also be due to a lack of staff or resources and may not necessarily indicate that all suppliers are up to speed.

Dalton said the label changes are so far “not very obvious” and added that “on the web there is a long way to go in most cases”.

“We need to deal with the consumer aspect of this change,” he added. “They have the information now, but we need to tell them how to make choices using that information.”

Latest from Marketing Week

The Insight Show partners with networking forum AURA

Insight Show

The partnership with AURA, the networking forum for brand-side insight professionals, will see it host its own conference within the Insight Show. Sessions aim to bolster the influence of insight in conversations with senior marketers and to improve communication of and engagement with insight-led projects.


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here