Breach of the Food Information Regulation (FIR) which comes into force on Saturday could cost retailers and suppliers £100,000 for each affected product, a private label specialist has warned.
All food and drink must include allergen and country of origin information in a designated format that meets agreed standards of clarity from this weekend.
A further requirement for nutritional information, including calorie content will become mandatory from December 2016, as other provisions of the Consumers EU 1169/2011 Regulation that FIR implements take effect.
Trace One, which helps private label retailers and national brands to accelerate product development and create transparency in their supply chains, said it had arrived at the huge figure by factoring in fines of at least £5,000, the cost of discarding finished non-compliant products, redesigning labels, manufacturing and distributing replacement stock and the lost sales and knock-on customer discontent from lack of availability.
Nick Martin, senior vice-president Northern Europe at Trace One, pointed out that while food retailers and manufacturers had taken great steps to address the new legislation it will not have been enough if any of the information was incorrect or incomplete or if mistakes had been made.
Millions of pounds of investment in changing product labelling to date will have been wasted if retailers and manufacturers could not accurately verify that the changes had been made, he said.
This required detailed specification information to be shared and controlled among all parties from retailers to packaging designers.
“The savvy shopper, having been significantly put off by recent food scares, is now demanding more information than ever before. This trend shows no sign of slowing,” said Martin.
While regulation could have a negative impact on many retailers, those that get it right by providing more information could restore consumer trust and help retailers and manufacturers be prepared for any further legislative changes in the future, he added.