The Food Labelling Legislation of the European Union- Encouraging First Steps
The original food labelling legislation produced by the EU was Directive 1979/112.
It was believed that harmonising rules was the best way to minimise concerns on foodtrade through member states. The effect of the Directive was to establish a list of specific labelling requirements which must appear on every food intended for sale tothe ultimate consumer.Indeed, one notes the real force of the legislation in the wide definition attached to theterm ‘labelling’, which encompasses every document accompanying or referring tothe relevant foodstuff.
Moreover, the legislation directed a strong warning to the producer; no labelling could mislead the consumer about any characteristics of thefoodstuff.
This framework was later replaced by Directive 2000/13,
which bolstered the oldregime by introducing additional labelling requirements. The new features further strengthened the position of the consumer; details relating to ingredients quantities, perishable dates, and alcoholic strength must now be attached.
The new Directive also displayed advertence to another key concern in this area-actually conveying the information to the consumer, once it has been attached. In thisregard, the new legislation was most promising. Compulsory labels must be easilyvisible and legible, and should not be hidden or obscured in any way.
From these provisions, one can discern a clear desire to place the consumer in the best possible position to make an informed decision on the quality, and by extension, safety, of a product.This regulatory framework has received generally positive interpretation by theEuropean courts. In
, it was held that labelling includes any information that is
Council Directive 1979/112/EEC of 18 December 1978, on the approximation of the laws of theMember States relating to the labelling, presentation, and advertising of foodstuffs, for sale to theultimate consumer, OJ L 33/1.
Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 March 2000 on theapproximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation, and advertisingof foodstuffs, OJ L 109/29.