The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (“FSAI”) has published guidance on the use of certain terminology in the marketing of food products in Ireland. While the FSAI accepts that marketing is necessary for the business needs of food producers, it is essential to ensure that customers are not misled by the over-use of certain terms. The guidance aims to ensure that terms used convey a clear meaning to the customer, while protecting the needs of smaller businesses that rely on genuine distinctions in marketing terms in order to differentiate their products in the marketplace.

The guidance is the result of a consultation carried out by a working group comprised of the FSAI, Food and Drink Industry Ireland and the Consumers’ Association of Ireland, as well as other food related bodies. It will apply to food products placed on the market or advertised after December 2016.

As well as outlining the general legal requirements that food businesses must follow in using marketing terms on their produce, clear definitions are provided for certain commonly used terms, such as “artisan”, “traditional”, “farmhouse” and “natural”. For example, in order to identify your product as being “traditional”, the recipe or preparation method must have been in place for at least 30 years without significant deviation.

Businesses involved in the food industry have 18 months to ensure that they comply with the new guidelines, which will serve to compliment the existing legislation. While it may result in some redesigning of food packaging, it is good news for companies whose products conform to the new definitions, who may now obtain meaningful recognition for their goods