The European Commission continues to develop the harmonised food labelling rules, which entered into force in 2014 (the “FIC”). On 4 January 2018, the European Commission published a Draft Implementing Regulation on the provision of voluntary indication of origin or place of provenance of foods (the “Draft Implementing Regulation”). The Draft Implementing Regulation is open for consultation until the 1 February 2018. If it is enacted in its current form, it will apply from 1 April 2019.

The FIC requires that when the place of origin or place of provenance of a whole product is provided on the product’s label, and yet the origin or place of provenance of its primary ingredient is different, information must also be given about the origin or place of provenance of that primary ingredient. The Draft Implementing Regulation develops the application of this requirement.

The Draft Implementing Regulation seeks to ensure any information regarding the origin or place of provenance of the primary ingredient is not misleading to the consumer by (i) providing references to specific geographical areas (“EU”, “non-EU” or “EU and non-EU”; Member States or third countries; or regions or any other geographical area within Member States/third countries, amongst other examples); or the option to inform consumers by using the following or similar statement: “(name of the primary ingredient) does not originate from (the country of origin or the place of provenance of the food)”.

The Draft Implementing Regulation also lays down labelling presentation requirements for the country of origin or the place of provenance indications for primary ingredients, such as font size for any indications provided in words; and for any indications given in a non-scriptural form, a requirement that they shall appear in the same field of vision as the indication of the country of origin or the place of provenance of the food.

The Draft Implementing Regulation applies to all products for which an origin or place of provenance is provided, but which have a primary ingredient from a different origin or place of provenance. It does not apply to whole products that do not provide the information regarding origin or place of provenance, and in these cases it will not be necessary to provide the information regarding the origin or place of provenance of the primary ingredient.