On 25 October 2011 the Council and the Parliament of the European Union (hereafter: the EU) adopted Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (hereafter: Regulation 1169/2011). This Regulation has major consequences for anyone who supplies food to large caterers and consumers (‘end users’). This article discusses the content and purport of this Regulation.

Regulation 1169/2011 is part of the EU’s efforts to realise a high level of consumer protection. The EU believes that the free movement of safe and healthy food is important for the internal market. The EU also believes that consumers must be given the chance to make an informed decision about foods they may want to consume, for the sake of protection of their health. The Regulation therefore provides specific instructions for the provision of food information to consumers.

Regulation 1169/2011 is also aimed at preventing consumers from being misled. In that respect the Regulation is also a supplement to Regulation 178/2002. Regulation 178/2002 is in fact the ‘basic regulation’ for food legislation. The basic standards in that regulation have subsequently been elaborated in other Regulations.

It is therefore important to realise that Regulation 1169/2011 is not an all-encompassing regulation: relevant rules may also follow from other EU regulations and national implementation and other regulations.

Regulation 1169/2011 prescribes in detail what information on food must be reported (see the article voluntary and mandatory food information) and how this information must be presented (see the article presentation of food information). Looking at the main points, this information pertains to the name and origin of the food, the composition – including the presence of any allergens or intolerances – instructions for use and warnings.

By far most of the provisions of Regulation 1169/2011 take effect as of 13 December 2014.

Dutch legislation
In the Netherlands the Commodities Act has long served as the starting point for regulation containing requirements for ‘commodities’ (moveable goods, including food). A great many Commodities Act decrees and regulations relating to specific products and product groups have subsequently been based on this act.

With Regulation 1169/2011 in mind, the Dutch legislator has adopted a new Food Information (Commodities Act) Decree (hereafter: the Commodities Act Decree). Most of the provisions from this decree take effect as of 13 December 2014, the date on which most of the provisions of Regulation 1169/2011 will also take effect.

The provisions of the Commodities Act Decree tie in with the provisions of Regulation 1169/2011. Where necessary and permitted, the Commodities Act Decree supplements the provisions of the Regulation. For instance the Commodities Act Decree prescribes – among other things – that the mandatory food information must at least be reported in Dutch (section 3 of the Commodities Act Decree, effective as of 13 December 2014).

If you work in the food industry or at a company that supplies foods directly to consumers, it would be wise to become well acquainted with the obligations to which you may be subject come 13 December 2014. For questions about this Regulation and the obligations which you may have to satisfy, contact Charlotte Raaimakers.

By Charlotte Raaimakers