What businesses can and should say about their foods is a hot topic with the introduction of the Provision of Food Information to Consumers Regulation due to come into effect in December 2014.
The overarching requirement for the labelling, presentation and advertising of food and, under the new Regulation, the provision of food information, is that it must not mislead consumers.
Food businesses use statements and claims about their products in order to entice consumers to choose their foods and to set them apart from rival products.
In order to assist food businesses, particularly those in the SME sector, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland is currently consulting on the use of certain marketing terms and the criteria for their use. Once the consultation period has ended, the intention is to create a Code of Practice that will help food businesses use marketing terms in a way that complies with their legal obligations. In the event of doubt, only a court of law can determine whether there has been any contravention of a legal requirement.
The FSAI’s consultation provides guidance on the use of the terms, ‘artisan’, ‘farmhouse’, ‘traditional’ and ‘natural’.
Whilst the same legal principles apply in Ireland and in the other Member States of the European Union, the way in which the national regulators interpret the use of marketing terms can differ. For Irish businesses selling into the UK for example, they should be aware that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published its own guidance on the use of similar marketing terms and this should be considered alongside the Irish guidance.
The FSA guidance can be found at http://multimedia.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/markcritguidance.pdf
The FSAI consultation document can be found at http://www.fsai.ie/uploadedFiles/Legislation/Consultations/COP_Food_Marketing_Terms_Draft_2014.pdf. Comments and submissions should be made by the closing date of 14 May 2014 and sent to email@example.com or by post to Consultations, FSAI, Abbey Court, Lwr Abbey Street, Dublin 1.
If we can assist with any labelling, marketing or other food law issues in Ireland or in England and Wales please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.