Information volunteered by any means to the final consumer about a food must not be misleading, ambiguous or confusing and, where appropriate, must have a sound scientific basis. The FIC commits the Commission, with no stated deadline, to introduce rules to ensure that voluntary information given in the following four areas complies with these requirements:
- information about possible cross-contamination with allergens
- information about suitability for vegetarians or vegans
- information in the form of sets of reference intakes for specific population groups beyond the set already given in the FIC
- information on the absence or reduced presence of gluten in food.
Further areas for harmonisation of voluntarily given information may be identified in due course.
The FIC establishes the clear principle that voluntary information must not be displayed to the detriment of the space available for mandatory information.
Voluntarily-given mandatory particulars
Specific product types may be exempt from the requirement to give certain mandatory particulars, e.g. drinks with an ABV above 1.2% are not required to be marked with an ingredients list and unprocessed products that comprise a single ingredient or category of ingredients are not required to be marked with nutrition information. However, when ‘mandatory particulars’ are volunteered, many of the rules applying to their compulsory provision must be followed. What is not required is for the presentational rules to be followed; the minimum font size, for instance, does not have to be respected, other than for the voluntary, front of pack nutrition declaration. When information is provided on a voluntary basis on food sold by distance selling, the specific rules regarding its provision before the purchase is concluded and again at the moment of delivery do not apply.