24 August 2022

Dutch food labelling and food legislation

Category: Food and commodities practice

Important food legislation on labelling requirements is the Food Information to Consumers Regulation (hereafter: “FIC”) (European Regulation 1169/2011). Food information on food products should be accurate (art. article 7(2) FIC ), clear and easy to understand for the consumer. ‘Clear and easy to understand’ is further elaborated upon in article 13 FIC, which states that mandatory information shall be put in a conspicuous place in such a way that it is easily visible, clearly legible and, where appropriate, indelible. It also sets specific formats for the information. Also read: food rules in the Netherlands.

Dutch food labels according to Food Information to Consumers Regulation

Article 7(1) FIC states that food information shall not be misleading, particularly:

  • (a) as to the characteristics of the food and, in particular, as to its nature, identity, properties, composition, quantity, durability, country of origin or place of provenance, method of manufacture or production;
  • (b) by attributing to the food effects or properties which it does not possess;
  • (c) by suggesting that the food possesses special characteristics when in fact all similar foods possess such characteristics, in particular by specifically emphasizing the presence or absence of certain ingredients and/or nutrients, and;
  • (d) by suggesting, by means of the appearance, the description or pictorial representations, the presence of a particular food or an ingredient, while in reality a component naturally present or an ingredient normally used in that food has been substituted with a different component or a different ingredient.

Mandatory information on food labels

Article 9 FIC lists the mandatory particulars that must be included on the label and/or on the package. In addition to this, article 2(1) of European Directive 2011/91 states that a prepackaged foodstuff (subject to exceptions, mentioned in article 2(2) of the Directive) may not be marketed unless it is accompanied by an indication as referred to in article 1(1) of that Directive; ‘an indication which allows identification of the lot to which a foodstuff belongs’ (or: the LOT-number).

Article 9(1) FIC:

In accordance with Articles 10 to 35 FIC and subject to the exceptions contained in Chapter IV of the FIC, indication of the following particulars shall be mandatory:

  1. the name of the food;
  2. the list of ingredients;
  3. any ingredient or processing aid listed in Annex II or derived from a substance or product listed in Annex II causing allergies or intolerances used in the manufacture or preparation of a food and still present in the finished product, even if in an altered form; (d) the quantity of certain ingredients or categories of ingredients;
  4. the net quantity of the food;
  5. the date of minimum durability or the ‘use by’ date;
  6. any special storage conditions and/or conditions of use;
  7. the name or business name and address of the food business operator referred to in Article 8(1);
  8. the country of origin or place of provenance where provided for in Article 26;
  9. instructions for use where it would be difficult to make appropriate use of the food in the absence of such instructions;
  10. with respect to beverages containing more than 1,2 % by volume of alcohol, the actual alcoholic strength by volume, and;
  11. a nutrition declaration.
  12. Note: article 10 FIC, in connection with Annex III FIC, contains additional mandatory particulars for specific types or categories of foods. The following categories of foods are concerned: (1) foods packaged in certain gases, (2) foods containing sweeteners, (3) foods containing sweeteners, (4) beverages with high caffeine content or foods with added caffeine, (5) foods with added phytosterols, phytosterol esters, phytostanols or phytostanol esters and (6) frozen meat, frozen meat preparations and frozen unprocessed fishery products. Since we don’t know anything about the contents of the oil, apart from it existing of coconut oil, CBD, THC and, for some product lines, some type of flavoring, we will assume article 10 FIC does not apply to the products.
  13. Product name on food label

Ad 9(1)(a) FIC. ‘The name of the food’

The name of the food is elaborated upon in article 17 FIC. The ‘name of the food’ as mentioned in articles 9(1)(a) and 17 FIC refer to the generic name (‘subtitle’) which describes the nature of the product (‘milk chocolate covered with caramel and biscuit’). The name can be provided in one of three modalities:

  1. The legal name available on a European or a national level. The legal name can be found in standards (a) for single types of foodstuffs, (b) for categories of foodstuffs or (c) jointly, in framework and Commission acts.
  2. The customary name. A name accepted and recognized in the Member States in which a food is sold.
  3. A descriptive name.

Ingredients on food label

Ad 9(1)(b) FIC. ‘The list of ingredients’

The list of ingredients is elaborated upon in article 18 and annex VII, part A and B, FIC. It must contain all ingredients, in order of declining weight. The same rules regarding naming (articles 17 and Annex VI FIC) must be used for the ingredients.

Annex VII contains specific rules regarding the list of ingredients, for specific categories of ingredients.

Annex VII part B mentions the designation of certain ingredients by the name of a category rather than a specific name.

Annex VII, part C, mentions the designation of certain ingredients by the name of their category followed by their specific name or E-number.

Als be aware of the Novel Food Regulation for novel ingredients like CBD. For further reading on CBD in products in the Netherlands read this.

Mandatoy rules food food supplements

Please note that food supplements also have their own labelling requirements. In accordance with article 29(1)(a) FIC, Section 3 FIC (on the nutrition declaration) does not apply to products that fall under Directive 2002/46 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to food supplements; ‘food supplements’. Food supplements must, in addition, comply with Directive 2002/46 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States on food supplements.

Further Dutch food label requirements

Ad 9(1)(c) FIC. ‘Allergens’

Each of the 14 allergens listed in Annex II FIC must be distinguishable as such by their reference in the list of ingredients or, if such a list is not present, must be mentioned by means of introducing the allergen with ‘contains’.

Ad 9(1)(d) FIC. ‘Quantitative indication of ingredients’

Article 22 and Annex VIII FIC elaborate upon the quantitative indication of ingredients.

Ad 9(1)(e) FIC. ‘Net quantity

Articles 23 and Annex IX further elaborate upon the net quantity-requirement.

Ad 9(1)(f) FIC. ‘Minimum durability date, ‘use by’ date and date of freezing’

Articles 24 and Annex X FIC further elaborate upon the durability labeling of foods.

Article 9(1)(g) FIC. ‘Special storage conditions and/or conditions of use’

Articles 25 FIC further elaborates on the labeling of special storage conditions and/or conditions of use. In cases where foods require special storage conditions and/or conditions of use, those conditions shall be indicated.

Advice Dutch food lawyer

Further rules in the FIC concern e.g. name, address, country of origin, instruction of use, etc. The Dutch food rules are complex and divers. Food producesr and manufacturers should be wel informed before marketing any product in the Netherlands.