Some small items exempt from new EU labelling rules

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has issued a reminder to food businesses that EU Regulations now require mandatory nutritional information with most pre-packed foods, to enable consumers make more informed purchasing choices.

However, small quantities of foods supplied directly to the consumer or to local retailers are being exempted from the nutritional information requirement.

The Department of Health has defined ‘small quantities’ and ‘local retail establishments’.

Why were the changes introduced and what are the exemptions?

According to Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO, FSAI this new Irish legislation will provide certainty and assist compliance among food businesses.

‘Small quantities’ of food is defined as (a) 250 kilograms or litres per week or 13,000 kilograms or litres of products per year or (b) 500 units per week or 26,000 units per year. Manufacturers can choose either.

‘Local’ is defined as not more than 100km from where the product is manufactured.

Foods sold without packaging or packed on the same premises as they are sold are considered non-prepacked, and are therefore exempt.

What other foods are exempted?

Exempted foods include unprocessed products with a single ingredient or category of ingredients; waters for human consumption; a herb, a spice or mixtures thereof.

Who is responsible for ensuring that the conditions of the exemption are met?

It is the responsibility of the food manufacturer to prove that they meet the necessary conditions of the exemption.

How does a food manufacturer prove that their prepacked products are exempt from the requirement to provide nutrition information?

The manufacturer must have documents or records which prove that their total supply of food does not exceed ‘small quantities’ and if supplying local retail, that those establishments are within 100 km of the manufacture of the food.

What about internet sales, is this included?

To qualify for the exemption, food manufacturers supplying via the Internet must supply ‘small quantities’ directly to the consumer and/or retail establishments within 100km.

What about produce already packed or on sale without nutrition information?

Any food labelled or placed on the market prior to December 13, 2016, in accordance with the existing rules, can remain on the market.

How will the local retailer know that the manufacturer does not have to provide nutrition information on their prepacked products?

The legislation places an obligation on the food manufacturer to provide confirmation of their right to avail of the exemption to the retailer.

Can a retailer supply exempted products to other local shops, restaurants or hotels?

No. Exempted products can only be sold directly to the consumer by the retailer.

I bake scones and tarts in my home and supply them to the local shop and to a local hotel, can I avail of the exemption?

Yes, you can avail of the exemption if you produce ‘small quantities’ , and both the local shop and hotel are within 100km of your home.

I am a wholesaler, can I apply for an exemption?

No, this only applies to manufacturers.

I bake breads and cakes which I sell without packaging at a farmers market, must I provide nutrition information?

No, the obligation to provide this data only applies to foods sold pre-packed.

I bake bread at home which I sell pre-packed to a local shop; I also sell my pre-packed bread to consumers from a market stall. Can I avail of the exemption?

Yes, if you meet the ‘small quantity’ criteria; the local shop must not be more than 100 km from your place of manufacture. The same rules apply to the market stall and the local retail establishment.

I do not qualify for the exemption, what must I do?

If your pre-packed product is not exempted, you must provide nutrition information in the format set out in the EU legislation.

Where can I look for more more information?

Food businesses with questions in relation to this can contact our Advice Line at info@fsai.ie.

Health & Safety Authority


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