Product labels must show the minimum legal content.
The labels of products such as food supplements are governed by Regulation (EU) No. 2011/1169 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25th of October 2011 on the food information given to the consumer.
As defined by the rule, food labels are deemed to be the indications, trademarks or trade names, signs, drawings and other descriptions, notices, handouts, stencils, markings, engravings or stamps on packaging or on a food container.
The person responsible for the information provided on the product labels is the company operator with whose name or business denomination the food is sold.If the company operator is not from the European Union, the person responsible will be the importer of the food.
Mandatory information on product labels.
Specifically, it is mandatory to mention the following information on product labels in compliance with article 9 of the Regulation:
- a) If it is a food supplement, this denomination must appear on the label.
- b) the list of ingredients in descending order.
- c) Any ingredient or technological additive included in annex II or derived from a substance or product listed in said annex that may cause allergies or intolerances and is used in the manufacture of a foodstuff and remains present in the finished product, even if in modified form.
- d) The quantity of certain ingredients or certain categories of ingredients.
- e) The net quantity of the foodstuff;
- f) The date of minimum durability or expiration date.
- g) The special conservation conditions and/or conditions of use.
- h) The name or business denomination and the address of the food company operator.
- i) The country of origin or place of provenance when this is provided.
- j) The instructions for use if it is difficult to make proper use of the foodstuff in the absence of such instructions.
- l) The nutrition facts.
Nutrition facts on food labelling
It is mandatory to show the nutrition facts on product labels since 13 December 2016.This means that the mandatory nutrition facts must show the energy value, the quantities of fats, saturated fats, carbohydrates, sugars, proteins and salt.
In addition, food labels can be completed by indicating the quantity of one or several of the following substances:
- monounsaturated fats,
- polyunsaturated fats,
- dietary fibre and/or
- any vitamin or mineral included in Annex XIII of the Regulation in significant quantities.
The information on the label of a food product will be indicated in 100 grams or milligrams of product.Additionally, and on a voluntary basis, by portions or other consumption units easily recognized by the consumer,provided the indicated unit is expressed quantitatively on the label as well as the total number of units of which the packaging consists.
Additionally, the units of measurement of the nutrients will be those covered in Annex XI, namely grams (g) for all macronutrients, Kilojoules (Kj) and Kilocalories (Kcal) to indicate energy value, and milligrams (mg) and micrograms (µg) for vitamins and minerals as indicated in Annex XIII part A, point 1.
The nutrient content can be expressed as a percentage of the reference intakes listed in Annex XIII per 100 grams or millilitres.
All these provisions on nutrition facts are applicable to food products for everyday consumption.Conversely, they will not be mandatory for food supplements.
Considerations of food labelling in food supplements.
In food supplements, provided all of the above provisions are met, nutrition facts can be indicated if you so wish. Royal Decree 1487/2009 of 26th of September on food supplements establishes that labels must indicate the quantity of ingredients with nutritional or physiological effect per recommended daily allowance for the product.
In addition, on the label of a food product such as food supplements, the labelling must mandatorily show:
- a) the denomination of the categories of nutrients or substances that characterize the product, or an indication of the nature of said nutrients or substances;
- b) the recommended daily allowance for the product;
- c) the warning to not exceed the expressly recommended daily allowance;
- d) the express statement that food supplements should not be used as a replacement for a balanced diet;
- e) the indication that the product should be kept out of the reach of small children.
Health claims on product labels.
In addition to all of the above, it is fairly standard practice that health claims are made on the labels of food products as well as food supplements.
When including health claims on the label of a food product, the provisions of Regulation 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims of foodstuffs should be taken into account.
This rule distinguishes between what is deemed to be a nutrition claim and a health claim.A nutrition claim is deemed to be any statement that asserts, suggests or implies that a foodstuff possesses beneficial nutritional properties.
A health claim is deemed to be any statement that asserts, suggests or implies that there is a connection between a food category, a foodstuff or one of its constituent parts and a person’s health.
It is important to highlight here the importance of always registering the brand and registering the name of the products so that others cannot use them and take advantage of our positioning.
It is therefore important, before selling, importing or distributing a food product, to review and check that the product labels comply with all legal requirements.At LegaleGo, as a , we conduct reviews of labels and draft a report with all the issues that need modifying or correcting.We also work on the label in regard to its content and its design so that it complies with all legal issues.In addition, and as lawyers based in Granada and Madrid, we help companies from a technical and legal viewpoint.