Ingredient origin labelling should remain voluntary under FIC regs, say suppliers


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Origin labelling should not be confused with traceability requirements, says PFP president Gary Sharkey
Origin labelling should not be confused with traceability requirements, says PFP president Gary Sharkey

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Food Information for Consumers (FIC) legislation should allow manufacturers to choose whether to label ingredient origins to avoid costly, complicated and unnecessary changes, say suppliers.

FIC is due to come into effect on December 13 but whether origin labelling will be required for ingredients that make up more than 50% of a food is still undecided.  An independent study ordered by the European Commission on the issue is due to be filed on December 13.

In the meantime, manufacturers and suppliers are concerned about how origin labelling would affect business, particularly if the main component of their product is produced in different regions according to the season, such as nuts, potatoes, sugar or flour, for example.

EU Primary Food Processors all work on the basis of a continuous process which requires a continuous supply of agricultural raw materials coming from different origins, which vary according to availability,”​ said EU Primary Food Processors president, Gary Sharkey, at a roundtable on the topic last month.

What does it mean for consumers?

Director general of FEDIOL, the association that represents Europe’s edible oil industry, Nathalie Lecocq, also pointed out that processors must change the origin of raw materials during the year.

“We wonder about the meaningfulness for consumers, because the quality of the oil is really determined by the knowledge of the refinery. Whether you use oilseeds from France, Germany, Ukraine or whatever, it doesn’t make a difference,”​ she said.

Sharkey added: “Origin labelling should not be confused with traceability requirements that already guarantee safe products on the EU market​.”

Separate silos for separate sources

Managing director of Starch Europe Jamie Fortescue said that even widespread voluntary labelling could be problematic.

“Being voluntary probably doesn’t help us because if one customer wants that claim, it would ruin the production chain for everyone else,”​ he told FoodNavigator. “I don’t believe that’s what the customer wants, and I don’t believe it’s what the consumer wants.”

He said: “If we had to label the raw material for every starch product that we produced, we would have to basically build separate silos for each source of raw material; you would have to stop production and clean the factory. I hope that won’t happen but everything is on the table at the moment.”

On December 13, origin labelling will be required for the unprocessed meat of swine, poultry, sheep and goats. However, the industry awaits clarification on origin labelling for other types of meat, ingredients that make up more than 50% of a finished product, milk and milk used as an ingredient in dairy products, single ingredient products and unprocessed foods.

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