> DEFRA Clarifies Food Naming Legislation in the UK - The Food Safety Company DEFRA Clarifies Food Naming Legislation in the UK - The Food Safety Company
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    Tuesday, 10 January 2017

    DEFRA Clarifies Food Naming Legislation in the UK

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    The UK’s Department for Environmental, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recently updated their guidance on food product naming, clarifying terms and clearing confusion. The changes will benefit manufacturers who can now be more precise about their products.

    Anything to do with brand names, trademarks and other labelling practices have been left as is, according to a spokesperson for DEFRA.

    Failure to adhere to the new policies may incur a fine, dependent on the severity of the misconduct.

    Legal names, or ‘reserved descriptions,’ are to be used only when a product meets certain conditions. A good example, made by Food Navigator, is instant coffee. The product will only be labelled as instant coffee if it is “made of solid coffee extract such as granules and contains at least 95% coffee” and contains natural substances (no artificial additives or flavours). Reserved descriptions guarantee that products on shelves meet a certain standard. Further examples can be found on the UK Government’s Food Standards page for labelling, durability and composition.

    No geographically-indicative names that fall under the EU’s protected designation of origin (PDO) or protected geographical indication (PGI) system may be used disingenuously; for example, Parmigiano-Reggiano or Herefordshire cider. These specific names are used only when referring to a certain quality of product or one originating from a specific region. This preserves the integrity of regional foods and allows rural activities to be recognised and have merit based on regional grade.

    Customary or descriptive names, identified as “one that consumers in parts of the UK generally accept as the name of the food without it needing further explanation such as ‘toad-in-the-hole’ or ‘bakewell tart,’” may be used to label food products that lack a legal name. If the food product is altered in such a way that it deviates from tradition, that must be immediately evident on the packaging. For example, if a pesto sauce is made with basil rather than parsley, the change must be clearly stated next to or directly under the product name in font at least 75% the height of the food name with an x-height of at least 1.2 mm.

    Any production processes a food product has been subjected to – ground, powdered, refrozen, freeze-dried, quick-frozen, concentrated, and smoked – must be clearly stated on the packaging. If, however, a product was temporarily frozen during production in alignment with food hygiene regulations or to enable some form of processing, that need not be listed. Any products treated with ionising radiation must include the term “irradiated” or read “treated with ionising radiation” on the packaging. 

    Jacqui Litvan

    Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).
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