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As a food business operator – including final importer – you must be able to trace and identify where your products came from and where they are going, to rapidly provide this information to health and safety authorities if required.
Specific limits exist for lead, tin and the mycotoxin palutin. See My export for per product information on contaminant levels.
For the exact amount of allowable residue for each pesticide, see the EU pesticide database. Example: no more than 0.5 mg of diphenlylamine is allowed per kg of apples used to produce fruit juice for export to the EU.
General food information to consumers applies to all food marketed in the EU and establishes the information that products have to display when sold to the final consumer or to a mass caterer.
Labels must be visible, legible, non-erasable, and clearly worded in a language easily understood by consumers. Usually this means in the official language(s) of the European country where the product is marketed. You may use foreign terms or expressions if they will be easily understood by consumers.
All food labels must display:
- The name under which the product is sold. A trademark, brand name or fancy name may be used in addition to the generic name. You must also include the product's physical condition or specific treatment undergone, if its omission could be misleading for consumers.
- The list of ingredients, including additives and added water. These should be listed in descending order according to weight.
- An ingredient must be expressed as a percentage if it appears in the name of the food, is emphasised on the labelling, and/or is an essential characteristic of the food product.
- There is an exception for foods consisting of a single ingredient, where the name of the food is identical to the name of the ingredient or allows consumers to easily identify the nature of the ingredient.
- You must always indicate any substances that might cause allergic reactions.
- For prepacked products, allergens should appear in a typeset that clearly distinguishes it from the rest of the ingredient list. If no list of ingredients exists, allergens should be indicated as follows: 'contains…'
- Net quantity (weight, volume in metric units) of prepackaged foodstuffs. This must be expressed in grams or kilograms. The drained net weight of the food must be shown if some food is present in a liquid form (including if this liquid is frozen in any way, e.g. sauces or glazes).
- Minimum durability date.
- All prepacked products must display the best before date in the format: "best before DD/MM/YYYY"
- If the product is highly perishable, it should instead display the 'use by' date.
- Non-prepacked products, products packed for direct sale or at the consumer's request are subject to the national rules of the EU country stipulating whether the 'best before' or 'use by' date should be displayed.
- Any special conditions for storage or use.
- The name or business name and address of the manufacturer, packager, or seller established in the EU. If not in the EU, the name and address of the importer must be shown.
- Identification marks, including the name of the origin country and the approval number of the production establishment. When it is produced in the EU, the abbreviation EC (or its translation in another EU language) must also be shown.
- Place of origin or provenance, where its omission could be misleading for consumers.
- Lot marking on pre-packaged foodstuffs. Format: "L..."
- Instructions for use, if needed.
- If any protein has been added, the name of the food must indicate this as well as the animal origin of the extra protein.
Packages (or labels attached to prepackaged fruit juice) must display:
- name under which the product is sold. Unless specific EU or national provisions apply, the name should be a customary name or a description. A trademark, brand name or fancy name may be used in addition to the generic name. You must also include the product's physical condition or specific treatment undergone, if its omission could be misleading for consumers.
- LIST OF INGREDIENTS, INCLUDING ADDITIVES. Exception: foods consisting of a single ingredient, where the name of the food is identical to the name of the ingredient or enables the nature of the ingredient to be clearly identified. You must always indicate any substances that might cause allergic reactions.
- NET QUANTITY (weight, volume in metric units) of prepackaged foodstuffs
- MINIMUM DURABILITY DATE. Format: "best before DD/MM/YYYY"
- SPECIAL CONDITIONS FOR STORAGE OR USE
- NAME OR BUSINESS NAME AND ADDRESS of the manufacturer, packager, or seller established in the EU.
- PLACE OF ORIGIN OR PROVENANCE, where its omission could be misleading for consumers.
- LOT MARKING on pre-packaged foodstuffs. Format: "L..."
Specifics for the labelling of fruit juice, concentrated fruit juice and fruit nectar
Labels must state whether the final juice:
- is a mixture of different fruit juices
- has been sweetened
- has been obtained entirely or partly from a concentrate.
For concentrated fruit juice, if the product is not intended for the final consumer, the label must also state whether any sugars, lemon juice or acidifying agents have been added to the product.
For fruit nectar, there are minimum levels of fruit juice and/or fruit purée content required, and these must be stated on the label.
See My export for:
- rules regarding the addition of sugars in juices
- raw materials and additives authorised for use in manufacturing juice and nectar.