Food Law News - EU - 2009

FSA Interested Parties Letter,  (LRM/006/097), 30 June 2009

LABELLING - European Commission’s Proposal for a Food Information Regulation: Council Working Group meeting – 28 May 2009 and progress report to June Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Following my letter of 14 May, the final meeting under the Czech Presidency of the Council Working Group on the Food Information Proposal took place on 28 May 2009.  The Presidency continued discussions on the proposal focussing on the Articles on responsibilities and clarity before devoting some time to the Presidency progress report, which was to be submitted to the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 22/23 June and invited the UK to give a presentation on the findings from the independent evaluation of front of pack signposting in the UK.

The main points of discussion were:

Article 8 – Responsibilities

The Presidency tabled an updated proposal, based on comments from the previous meeting.  Discussion ensued with a further debate around the general principles that need to be incorporated in this Article and in particular noting the importance of clarifying where responsibilities lie for products imported from third countries.

Article 14 – Clarity

Member States maintain their support, at least in principle, of a minimum font size (defined as an ‘x height’ – the height of a lower case ‘x’).  There was some discussion on the exemption from the minimum font size for small packages and the practical problems of multilingual packages. The Swedish delegation indicated that they wanted to examine the issue of pack size at their first meeting. There was also a suggestion from some delegations that the Commission should make available non-binding guidance on legibility. Participants were made aware that guidance had already been developed by some industry organisations and Member States and that the draft proposal already allowed for such guidance to be developed if necessary by comitology.

 Agriculture and Fisheries Council 22/23 June 2009

At the meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council the Czech Presidency provided a progress report on the Food Information Regulation proposal setting out the developments which had been made in the negotiations under their presidency and outlining some of the issues which will need to be addressed before the text is finalised. The progress report can be downloaded from the following url:

Next Steps

The Swedish Presidency has said that they would like to make enough progress to be able to agree most issues by the end of the year. They are intending to have meetings every 2-3 weeks. The first meetings are scheduled for 6 and 23 July and will concentrate on general labelling issues, with a meeting also scheduled for 8 September.

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