Sir: From 13 December 2014, the Food Information for Consumers Regulation (EU FIC) will come into force, but there are fears the guidance to UK businesses is unclear (Cover story, 29 November).
We have been working with retailers and the hospitality industry for many years, and have been running roadshows with the British Hospitality Association. Feedback has indicated many of the smaller organisations have no knowledge of the regulation at all. This is of great concern as non-compliance, which will be enforced by Trading Standards, carries a fine of up to £5,000.
The regulation was designed to create a level playing field across the EU, but there is real worry some states may not fully embrace the spirit of the regulation, and may still require labelling to adhere to local legal requirements. A good example is tomato ketchup. There is no formal translation of this in some countries, but most people simply ask for “ketchup”, in the same way that the Swiss word muesli has been adopted here despite there being no English equivalent. If this stance remains, issues over labelling requirements also remain and UK manufacturers still face uncertainty about whether their products will be accepted in other EU countries.
It is imperative to have a workable system for recording the information and ensuring it is readily available to staff to communicate to customers. For this to be successful, we must ensure that the industry is clear on the legal framework in which businesses must operate.
Nicky Strong, lawyer, Bond Dickinson