The UK food industry is in a state of "mixed readiness" for the upcoming Food Information to Consumers EU 1169/2011 Regulation (FIR) deadline, according to new research.
A study commissioned by GS1 has found there are some common issues arising among companies that will soon be required to comply with the FIR, with only a small proportion of the products that were tested proving to be compliant.
Analysis involved randomly selecting 20 items to fill a 'basket', with five each of these coming from either a meat, confectionary, ready meals, or flour and bakery background.
Worryingly, just four of the 20 managed to pass the test without breaking any of the new FIR guidelines and GS1 has responded by issuing its own advice on some of the common misconceptions manufacturers appear to have when it comes to what is required of their labelling.
The organisation highlighted three key areas that businesses were regularly failing to understand - declaring nutritional information, stating the country of origin and multilingual labelling.
For the first problem point, a range of layouts were identified, with products being imported from outside of the European Union needing to adapt their designs to comply with the FIR.
Meanwhile, despite the country of origin statement appearing to be a simple requirement at first glance, it is actually one of the more complex regulations. Meat businesses in particular appeared to struggle with this, as the requirements of their labels vary depending on the product type and ingredients.
Finally, the minimum font size set out by the FIR is proving to be a challenge for smaller products, especially those that display multiple languages on their packaging.
GS1 UK chief executive Gary Lynch said: "We recommend that all businesses involved in the supply and sale of food and drink products aim to be compliant well in advance of the 13th December deadline, to help avoid bottlenecks and ensure contingency measures can be put in place should final labelling errors be found."
The findings of the survey appear to support an earlier warning by the British Retail Consortium, with the body expressing its concern that many of its members would struggle to meet their requirements in time.
Posted by Simon Tourle