Authority issues guidelines on food terms

New guidelines have been issued to food producers to ensure consumers are not misled by labels like ‘artisan’, ‘farmhouse’, ‘traditional’ and ‘natural’.

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) have collaborated on the rules which follow extensive food industry engagement.

They will now support the ASAI Code of Standards for Advertising and Marketing Communications in Ireland which relates specifically to the advertising of food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Under the new rules, the terms ‘artisan’ or ‘artisanal’ or similar descriptions using these terms should only be used on foods made in limited quantities by skilled craftspeople, and where the processing method is not fully mechanised and follows a traditional method.

The food should also be made in a ‘micro-enterprise’ at a single location where the characteristic ingredients used are grown or produced locally.

The term ‘farmhouse’, or similar terms that create an impression that a food originates on a farm, should only be used on foods that have been made in a single location on a farm, and created by a micro-enterprise where the characteristic ingredients are, again, grown or produced locally.

The term ‘traditional’ or similar descriptions using this term should only be used on foods made to an authentic recipe which can be proved to have existed without significant modification for at least 30 years.

The use of the marketing term ‘natural’, or variations on this term, should only be applied to a food formed by nature and not significantly interfered with by man.

Food businesses have been advised to ensure marketing terms used on foods are compliant with relevant legislation and information contained in the guidance as soon as possible.

However, as a minimum, the guidelines will apply from today to the labels of foods placed on the market, presented and advertised.

CEO of the FSAI Pamela Byrne said the rules will go a long way to ensuring food marketing terms are not used incorrectly to mislead consumers and their inclusion as a resource by the ASAI is an added welcome step in this process.

“Consumers have a right to be confident that the foods they purchase and eat are accurately and truthfully described on the label. Food businesses should also be confident that genuine descriptions of their food are not diluted in the marketplace by undefined marketing terms,” she said.


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