At present EU food labelling legislation is harmonised by Council Directive 2000/13/EC, transposed in 2002, with several amendments since. In January 2008, the European Commission presented its proposals on updating and harmonising this legislation. The proposal is still under discussion. This proposal consolidated existing legislation in the area of food labelling and introduced new provisions for Country of Origin Labelling, a mandatory nutrition declaration and allergen labelling, amongst others.
In November 2008, Ireland submitted its position paper on the proposal. This paper was informed by submissions made to the FSAI by many of the key stakeholders. Ireland's position will be further informed by the outcome of an FSAI Consumer Survey. This is expected to end in June 2009. In its position paper, Ireland
supports mandatory Country of Origin Labelling,
shares the concerns of a significant number of other member states with regard to National Schemes,
welcomes the proposal for mandatory allergen labelling and supports the highlighting of allergens on labels,
supports the equal treatment of all alcohol products,
asks that consideration should be given to bringing alcohol products into the scope of the legislation,
supports the retention of the Commission's proposal with regard to the use of "per portion" expression alone in certain cases,
does not support the proposal for a minimum font size of 3mm for display of mandatory particulars and suggests that other aids to legibility, such as contrasting background, be explored,
shares the concerns of some other member states regarding possible flaws in the calculation of Reference Intakes,
feels that a lower "significant amount" should be stipulated for foods and beverages with low contents of dried matter,
supports the inclusion of trans fats, fibre, folic acid, calcium, iron and vitamin D in the mandatory nutrition declaration.
Since January 2008 a number of meetings have taken place at European Union Working Group level, attended by officials from Department of Health and Children and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. The next meeting is due to take place on 27 April 2009. On 16th March 2009, the European Parliament examined the proposal. Parliament has indicated however, that it will not be in a position to conduct the first reading of the document until after the May European Parliament elections. At this stage, it is likely that the proposal will not be finalised until end of 2009 at the earliest.