It is not possible for individual Member States to apply their own national measures in areas covered (‘harmonised’) by the FIC unless specifically authorised by EU law and free trade is unaffected. National measures can be applied in non-harmonised areas but again, free trade cannot be impeded except when additional mandatory particulars are applied to particular types of foods on prescribed grounds. The FIC allows Member States to adopt national measures requiring the provision of food information for non-prepacked foods except that the provision of the mandatory particular concerning allergens is compulsory.
Member States may adopt national measures requiring additional mandatory particulars for specific types of foods justified on grounds of at least one of the following:
- protection of public health
- protection of consumers
- prevention of fraud
- protection of industrial and commercial property rights, indications of provenance, registered designations of origin and the prevention of unfair competition.
These grounds could enable additional mandatory origin indications to be introduced by particular Member States, if there was a proven link between specific qualities of a food and its origin. The UK has no plans in this area.
The imposition of these mandatory national measures is subject to notification to, and acceptance by, the Commission, assisted if necessary by a committee of representatives of the Member States.
Where foods are offered for sale to the final consumer or caterers in non-prepacked form (i.e. without prepackaging, or packed on the sales premises at the consumer’s request or ‘prepacked for direct sale’ (undefined in the FIC)), only the provision of allergen information is mandatory on an EU-wide basis. The provision of all other FIC information is at Member States’ discretion. The means of provision and the form of expression and presentation of information (including allergen information) for non-prepacked food is also at Member States’ discretion.
As far as England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are concerned, details of their respective national measures on food information are included in the four countries’ Statutory Instruments enforcing the FIC.