On 7 November 2012, DEFRA published its consultation on a new draft statutory instrument (“SI”) – Food Information Regulations 2013 – which will provide UK enforcement rules for EU Regulation 1169/2011 on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers (“FIR”).

The FIR combines two directives (Food Labelling Directive 2000/13/EC and Nutrition Labelling Directive 90/496/EEC) into one piece of directly applicable legislation.  Most of the provisions of the FIR will apply from 13 December 2014.  The requirement to provide nutrition information on a mandatory basis will apply from 13 December 2016.

The SI seeks to introduce new and simplified enforcement provisions.  The front line measure for the majority of provisions (except those relating to food safety, such as allergen indications) will be an “improvement notice”.  Businesses will have the opportunity to appeal against an improvement notice.  Appeals will be made through more technical ‘first-tier tribunals’ and no longer via Magistrates’ courts.  If the conditions set by an improvement notice are not met, this will be a criminal offence.

In accordance with the Red Tape Challenge, DEFRA is proposing to revoke existing regulations, particularly where standards are already provided at an EU level.  This issue is discussed in the “Impact Assessment” however there are additional questions related to:

  • alcohol claims; and
  • ice cream, and cheese and cream

which are discussed in Annexes 1 and 2 of DEFRA’s consultation document.

Unfortunately, the guidance on this SI has not yet been drafted to accompany the consultation.

The DEFRA consultation can be accessed here and is open until 30 January 2013.