The catering industry in the European Union (EU) is faced with new regulations for food labelling. From the 13th of December 2014, both food manufacturers and the catering industry will have to adapt to the new food labelling and nutritional claims regulations.
Currently, the food labelling regulations are designed to standardise nutritional information on processed or composite foods. The new legislation will stretch this concept to pre-packaged and unpacked foods, including those sold in restaurants and delicatessens. For the majority of the EU, this is a new concept. For most small businesses, they were exempt from any food labelling regulations but now, “any food intended for supply to the final consumer or to mass caterers shall be accompanied by food information in accordance with this Regulation.”
Previously, food business operators were responsible for the correctness of food labelling but with the new regulations, the entire food chain is involved with the labelling, all the way from raw material purveyor to wholesaler. This ensures the correct information is carried all the way to the consumer.
What about food labelling in catering for Australia?
For exporters, a full list of ingredient will need to be supplied. Previously, only the ingredient list needed to be in all relevant languages. The new regulation requires the full list in all languages of the EU countries in which the product is sold.
For those in the catering industry, this news serves as a good reminder of how we should conduct our own labelling methods. Our current regulations are pretty great but like the EU, we should continue to look for ways to provide the most accurate information to the consumers. From my own experience, I know a friend who attended an opera where all the catered food was supposedly gluten free. Being celiac, it was very important point for her. But somewhere along the chain, gluten must have been present because she ended up vomiting throughout the opera performance. Adopting a clearer labelling system may have allowed my friend to actually enjoy her opera as opposed to running back and forth to the bathroom.
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