BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — Starting Dec. 13, new E.U. labeling rules will take effect, which in part include specific information on the vegetable origin of refined oils and fats, and mandatory origin information for fresh meat.

The Food Information to Consumers’ Regulation requires food labels to include more information about the nature of the vegetable oils and fats used as an ingredient, said FEDIOL, the E.U. vegetable oil and protein meal industry association. Manufacturers must abandon the generic reference to “vegetable oils” or “vegetable fats” and replace it by a detailed list of oil plants used.

“While the new regulation will in some cases reduce flexibility for food manufacturers, it will also provide consumers with clearer, more transparent information on food products and is therefore a positive move”, said Kevin Brasington, president of FEDIOL.

Other key changes to the labeling requirements include:

• Improved legibility of information (minimum font size for mandatory information);
• Clearer and harmonized presentation of allergens (e.g. soy, nuts, gluten, lactose) for prepacked in the list of ingredients;
• Mandatory allergen information for non-prepacked food, including in restaurants and cafes;
• Requirement of certain nutrition information for majority of prepacked processed foods;
• Same labelling requirements for online, distance-selling or buying in a shop;
• List of engineered nanomaterials in the ingredients.
• Strengthened rules to prevent misleading practices;
• Indication of substitute ingredient for 'Imitation' foods;
• Clear indication of "formed meat" or "formed fish"; and
• Clear indication of defrosted products.

Rules relating to mandatory nutritional labelling for processed food will apply starting Dec. 13, 2016.

Food business operators have been given three years to ensure a smooth transition towards the new labelling regime for prepacked and non-prepacked foods. In addition, the regulation provides for exhaustion of stocks for foods placed on the market or labelled before Dec. 13.

The Commission has been working together with businesses to ensure that the new rules will be properly implemented. Work is also underway on developing an E.U. database to facilitate the identification of all E.U. and national mandatory labelling rules in a simple way. The work for the creation of the database should be carried out during 2015.