One of the most important objectives of the food packaging is to preserve and protect it from external agents. Another essential aim is to inform to the consumers about the product they are buying. To reach this objective, there are some rules contemplated on EU´s law that regulate the information that should be printed into the labels.
The purpose of labeling is to guarantee that clients have the complete information and description on the content and composition of products, in order to protect their interests and health. The EU has over half a billion potential consumers so the member States have particular interest in protecting and safeguarding their citizens, harmonizing each national regulations and measures in order to achieve the same level of protection for all of them.
The necessary information and description
Information on labels must be precise, clear and easy to understand by the consumer. Basically, the items that should be shown on the food packing labels are:
- The name of the product
- The manufacturer’s name
- The name of the importer (if the company is not established in the EU)
- The contact details for the manufacturer or importer (address and telephone number; in resume, to facilitate an easy way to costumers to contact to solve any problem about the product)
- The description of the product
- The weight
- The net quantity
- The substances causing allergies or intolerances
- The quantity of ingredients or categories of ingredients (listed in descending order of weight)
- Any special storage conditions
- Any special conditions of use
- Any special cooking instructions, (in case the product should be cooked or heat). Storage instructions
- The due date or date of minimum durability or the ‘use by’ date (also it would be a good practice to inform the durability of the product when the package is opened).
- The place of origin (country, state or region, depends on the product and always trying not to mislead the client).
- The place where is packing
- The information must be in the language of the country where the product is commercializing or a language easily understood by the consumers.
Voluntary food information
Experience shows that in many cases voluntary food information was given to confuse the clarity of the mandatory food information. Therefore, this kind of description should be provided to help customers to make a better choice. To print voluntary information on the label, the manufacturer should attend three basics requirements:
1) Not mislead the consumer
2) Not be ambiguous or confusing for the consumer
3) Be based on the relevant scientific data.
Nutritional values of the product are also important information that labels should content. There is a special European regulation which establishes nutrition labeling mandatory for food packaging.
In essence, the manufacturers should provide information on the energy value and six nutrients: fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt. These specifications should be provided simple and easily understood and presented in a table in the same field of vision of the product.
The label´s description aims to allow consumers to get more informed about the diet they daily take and make better decisions on what they buy to eat.