Regulations pertaining to Labeling are changing across the world. Manufacturers incur cost to make sure that their Labels are compliant with the regulations. Besides cost, the quantity of time and effort invested to make these changes determine how soon you go to the market with these new changes.
The upcoming (2014 and nutrition labeling in 2016) Regulation (EU) no1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, is focused primarily on labeling. Some key points are
- Country of origin – subject to further discussion, the introduction of mandatory origin information for most fresh and frozen meat. For example, it will be possible for ‘Scotland’, ‘England’, ‘Wales’ and ‘Northern Ireland’ to be used on food labels without mentioning ‘UK’ under new provenance rules. Also, the origin of main ingredients will have to be given if different from where the final product is made.
- Nutrition labelling will be required for most foods. Simplified information may be provided voluntarily on front of pack.
- Labelling clarity – a minimum font size has been set for all mandatory information on most food labels.
- Allergen information will have to be provided on all food (whether sold prepacked or loose). For prepacked foods, the allergens will have to be highlighted on the ingredient list.
- Drinks with high caffeine content will have to be additionally labelled as not recommended for children or pregnant and breastfeeding women, with the actual caffeine content quoted.
- Meat and fish products that look like a cut, joint or slice and contain more than 5% added water will have to show this in the name of the food.
- The types of vegetable oil used in food, such as palm oil, must be stated.
Regulations affect more than just labeling. For example the new Cosmetics Regulation in Europe, which came into effect on 11th July 2013, affects Safety Assessment, Product notification and Labeling.
In the process of complying with the regulations, people from multiple departments get involved and spend considerable time working together to get things right. Some of these departments include
a) Research & Development
b) Formulation & Safety
e) Product Marketing
f) Regulatory Affairs
While some companies might feel that complying with these regulations is a distraction from the already tight product launch schedules, others have come to accept these changes and have taken steps to reduce or eliminate the disruption caused by these constant changes.
These companies big and small have invested in workflow, project management, collaboration and proofing technologies which help them in managing their work load consistently with the key objective of getting a compliant product out the door as soon as possible.
Coping with regulatory changes is easier with these tools that help in not only speeding up the process but ensures that its compliant.