Half of all food industry penalties incurred are due to labelling
Around 50% of penalties imposed in the food industry are due to mislabelling issues. Although Regulation 1169/2011 has been up and running for three months now, companies continue to have concerns about its application. This was recently confirmed in an AINIA Technology Centre communiqué.
Identifying product sources and managing allergen-related information are two of the issues giving rise to most confusion to the industry. In this area, we must note that we are still waiting for a Royal Decree that regulates, for example, the mandatory information in the event of bulk sales.
Doubts are also voiced about the nutritional data that should appear on labelling (energy value, fats, carbohydrates, sugars, etc.). This information is still voluntary until December 13, 2016. However, those having already decided to include it in their products must do so as set forth in Regulation 1169/2011.
What are the penalties for?
As indicated by AINIA, improper designation of the product, the inclusion of unjustified nutritional statements and claims or incorrectly drafted lists of ingredients are the main causes of sanctions related with the new labelling. Bear in mind that this obligation goes beyond the physical sale. Article 14 of the Regulation states that food sales made remotely or online must also comply with these requirements.
And what happens if the industry fails to comply?
The penalties that distributors or retailers may face include product withdrawal, re-labelling and economic fines. But beyond that, incorrect food information can entail serious problems with consumers and even discredit the brand.
Let's say, for example, that a gluten-intolerant person decides to shop online. The product information that the supermarket provides them with is essential. But what would happen if one of the foodstuffs was incorrectly labelled “gluten-free”? The consumer could potentially suffer health problems and the distributor would face serious legal problems, in addition to complete loss of trust.
This may be one of the major advantages entailed in Regulation 1169/2011 in terms of food e-commerce. Consumers have more facilities and greater peace of mind when shopping online. And distributors can quickly gain the users' confidence easily. All they need to do is synchronize their product information with their suppliers, through e-catalogues such as EDICOMData, which automate the procedure.