Nutrition labelling

Presentation and work of ANSES

Nutrition labelling of food concerns all the information appearing on a product’s packaging relating to its energy and nutrient content. It is a tool to help consumers in their food choices that also supports public health policy measures with regard to nutrition. How can this information be made reliable, useful and easy to understand for everyone? A regulation that has been applicable in Europe since 2011 stipulates the nutrition information to be included on the label, and the form in which it should be presented to consumers (positioning, size, presentation, etc.).

The current labelling situation

Food labelling has been harmonised at European level since the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. This Regulation aims to simplify, clarify and harmonise food information at European level.

Concerning nutrition information, the details that must be included on the label are the energy value and the amounts of fat, saturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, sugars, protein and salt, per 100 g or 100 ml, or per serving if this is clearly identified.

Other nutrition information may be indicated (levels of vitamins, minerals, fibre, etc.). This is voluntary, and must always comply with the presentation rules laid down in the Regulation.

There is a transitional period to allow manufacturers to comply with these new rules. Thus, the nutrition declaration will be mandatory from 13 December 2016, where as if the manufacturer already uses nutrition labelling, its presentation must comply with the Regulation from 13 December 2014.

The Agency’s proposals and recommendations with regard to nutrition labelling

As part of discussions prior to the adoption of this Regulation, the Agency had been formally requested in 2005 to:

  • specify the categories of nutrients to be prioritised on the labelling;
  • propose the most relevant information that would enable consumers to adjust their consumption to their needs.

Based on a review of scientific data on consumers’ perceptions of nutrition labelling and its impact on their food choices, and on the basis of its previous recommendations, the Agency proposed that the following information be included as a priority on labelling:

  • energy density
  • total carbohydrates (including total simple carbohydrates)
  • proteins
  • total fats (including saturated fatty acids)
  • salt or salt equivalent

The priority information proposed by the Agency and defining the French position in European discussions is consistent with that adopted in the Regulation for the mandatory nutrition declaration.

In addition, the Agency deemed it necessary to implement educational support for any new labelling system to ensure that adequate information and education are provided to the consumer. It also stressed the need to acquire data to better understand consumers’ perceptions of labelling and confirm their impact on consumer behaviour and food choices.