A Guide to the New Food Information Regulations

The EU Food Information Regulation (adopted September 2011) have repealed EC Directive 90/496/EEC and 2000/13/EC for nutrition labelling for food stuffs and food labelling in general. The purpose of the new EU Food Information Regulation is to make food labelling easier to understand for consumers, by simplifying and streamlining current legislation on general food and nutrition labelling intro a single EU regulation.
Areas convered include allergens, nano-ingrediants and imitation foods as well as the presentation of nutrition information packs.
The two directives are used as a starting point and as a result many of the principles remain familiar, but there are some significant changes, covering:
Wider scope – geographic and responsibilities for food business operators
Presentation of information on pack – tighter provision re ‘misleading’ product descriptions and on minimum font sizes for display of mandatory information
Country of Origin – tighter place of origin rules and extension of scope to fresh and frozen meat. Potential extension to include meat and dairy products, unprocessed foods and ingredients
Name of the food – changes to descriptions including reference to ‘formed’, ‘frozen’, ‘defrosted’ and indications of foreign proteins and caffeine content
Allergens information – more prominence through use of typeface or colour in the ingredients list; extension of declaration to non-packaged foods*
Date of durability – tighter link of ‘use by’ to food safety. 
The bulk of the requirements will come into full effect in 2014 and nutrition labelling becomes mandatory in 2016. In simple terms, the net result of this is that you are going to need to put more information on your labels.  In many cases, pack sizes are going to prove prohibitive on a single layer label.
It’s the goal that labels will have the right balance of mandatory and voluntary information and offer clear and honest representations of the products inside the packaging.
New regulation [EU -1169/2011] states that all mandatory information must be printed in a font size that reaches a minimum x-height of 1.2mm. But, can be reduced to 0.9mm if the largest packaging or container surface is 80cm2 or less.
It’s important that all mandatory and voluntary information is compiled before the label is designed, so that space can be split evenly, this ensures a good balance.
Once you’ve decided on font size its good practice to ensure legibility by maximizing contrast, formatting and print clarity. Arial is a good strong font that is recommended for labels. But it’s not great for numbers as 6, 8 and 9 can be easily misread. Highly decorative fonts are best avoided as they can create confusion. 
When using colour on a label it is best to use a dark text on a light background. If you’re planning on using light text on to a dark background, then opt for a larger size font as its more effective.  Avoid green and red together as it can be a confusing combination. As, can placing text on non-solid or busy backgrounds. It might seem obvious, but some brands still do it, avoid light text on light background or dark text with a dark background.
Try to avoid use of lots of different languages as it can get confusing. If it’s really necessary keep the number of languages to a minimum, too many languages and you’ll have to reduce the font type, which in turn with compromise clarity.Keep messaging brief and be direct, too much information and the original message can easily get lost. For voluntary information, consider using a universally recognised pictogram. These usually offer additional information on cooking, opening or use of a product.
Stick to these voluntary communication methods, along with the mandatory text legibility standards and the labels you produce will be consumer friendly and tick all the right regulatory boxes.
We offer a range of products that will help you in conforming to the new regulations:
Reverse Printed Labels   (photo PrintOnAdhesive)
These are labels with printing on the adhesive side, in effect giving you an additional printable page.
Peel and Reveal Labels  (photo PeelAndRevealLabel / trial price 1)
These are labels with 2 or 3 layers of material, hinged by a spine.  This gives you 3 or 5 printable pages (plus an additional page if we print on the adhesive of the base label).
Booklet and Leaflet Labels   (photo LabelsGroup-7 / Wok) 
Printed label products with up to 40 pages if required.  
All of the above products are available to be printed flexographically for longer production runs, as well as digitally printed for shorter or multi sort work.