The labeling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs

Prepacked food products must comply with labeling, presentation and advertising made about them. These rules are harmonized within the European Union (EU) to allow European consumers to make informed choices and to remove obstacles that may impede the free movement of foodstuffs and unequal conditions of competition.


Directive 2000/13 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 March 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to food labeling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs [See document / amending acts].


The Directive applies to foodstuffs intended for supply to the ultimate consumer or restaurants, hospitals, canteens and other similar mass. It does not apply to products for export outside the European Union (EU).

The labeling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs may not be suitable for:

  • misleading the characteristics, properties or effects of the food;
  • attribute to any food the property of preventing, treating or curing a human disease (excluding Community provisions applicable to natural mineral waters and foods for particular nutritional uses).

Mandatory labeling

Food labeling must contain certain mandatory. These statements should be easily understood and readily visible, legible and indelible. Certain information must appear in the same field of vision.

When the foodstuffs are prepackaged, the mandatory appear on the prepackaging or on a label attached thereto.

Covering mandatory particulars:

  • trading name;
  • list of ingredients that are listed in descending order of their weight and are designated by their specific name, subject to certain exceptions set out in Annexes I, II, III and IIIBis. For ingredients which belong to several categories, the category appropriate to the principal function in that foodstuff is recommended.

In some cases, the ingredients is not required if:

  • fresh fruit and vegetables;
  • carbonated water;
  • fermentation vinegars;
  • cheese, butter, fermented milk and cream;
  • products comprising a single ingredient, provided that name is identical with the ingredient name or enables the nature of the ingredient to be clearly identified.
  • Certain additives and enzymes are not considered certain ingredients; it comes to ingredients that are used as processing aids or are contained in an ingredient without fulfill any technological function in the finished product;
  • the quantity of ingredients or categories of ingredients expressed as a percentage. This statement applies where the ingredient or category of ingredients:
  • appears in the name of merchantability or are generally associated with that name by the consumer;
  • They are highlighted on the labeling in words, pictures or graphics; or;
  • They are essential to characterize a food (but can be provided for some exceptions);
  • the net quantity expressed in units of liquid products and mass units for other products. They feature the same time, specific provisions for foodstuffs sold by and for foods presented in a liquid medium;
  • date of minimum durability. This date consists of the day, month and year except food whose validity is less than three months (the day and the month is sufficient), foodstuffs which will keep for more than 3 months but not exceeding 18 months (indicating the month and year will suffice) or whose validity is less than 18 months (year is sufficient indication).

Validity date is preceded by the words ‘Best before … “when the date includes the day or’ Best before end …” in other cases.

Indication of the date of durability shall not be required for the following products:

  • fresh fruit and vegetables which have not undergone any treatment;
  • wines and beverages containing 10% or more alcohol by volume;
  • soft drinks;
  • fruit juices and alcoholic beverages in individual containers of more than five liters, intended for supply to mass;
  • Bakery and confectionery products which, by their nature, are normally consumed in a time of twenty-four hours after manufacture;
  • vinegar;
  • cooking salt;
  • sugars in solid form;
  • confectionery products consisting almost solely of flavored sugars and / or colored;
  • chewing gum;

Individual doses of ice-cream.

  • In the case of foods, the date of minimum durability is replaced by the date of consumption;
  • special conditions for storage and use;
  • name or business name and address of the manufacturer or packager or of a seller established within the Community. As regards butter produced in their territory, they are authorized to require only an indication of the manufacturer, packager or seller;
  • place of origin or provenance where failure to give such particulars might mislead the consumer;
  • the use must be indicated if its omission would not allow a proper use of the food;
  • the actual alcoholic strength by volume for beverages containing more than 1.2% alcohol by volume.

Exceptions and special provisions

European provisions applicable to certain foodstuffs may authorize the optional nature of claims about the list of ingredients and date of minimum durability. These provisions may provide other mandatory, provided that they do not prevent the purchaser is informed.

There are special provisions regarding:

  • glass bottles intended for reuse and small packaging;
  • prepacked foods. If the prepacked foods are sold in stages prior to sale to the final consumer or deliver to communities to treatment indications may appear only on commercial documents referring thereto, provided that name, date of validity Minimum and address of the manufacturer or packager to be listed on the outer packaging;
  • prepackaged foodstuffs are on sale or foods packaged on sale at the purchaser’s request.

Protective clause

Member States may not prohibit trade in foodstuffs which comply with rules of the Directive than applying harmonized national provisions justified by special reasons, such as protection of public health, prevention of fraud or the protection of industrial and commercial property.

Committee procedure and context

Implementation of the Directive is ensured by the European Commission, using the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health.

Directive 2000/13 / EC replaces Directive 79/112 / EEC on the labeling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs.

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