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Regulation 178/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mandatory country of
origin labelling (CoOL) for food products
(Text with EEA relevance) [for educational purposes only]
THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 114 thereof,
Having regard to the proposal from the European Commission;
Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee,
Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in the ordinary legislative procedure,
(1) Consumers have a right to know not only what their food contains but also where it comes from. For
that reason, not only the information on the composition and nutritional value but also the origin of foods is essential, since only on that basis can consumers make selective purchasing decisions.
(2) Although EU law contains a series of regulations and directives dealing with food ingredients and
food labelling, as yet it lays down no comprehensive rules on compulsory country of origin labelling. Quite apart from the fact that the range of general and specific EU legal provisions on food information has now expanded so much as to become simply confusing, thus giving rise to legal uncertainty, additional national rules are creating distortions of competition and barriers to trade in the European Union's internal market. Only uniform EU rules on food labelling can remedy these problems.
(3) The purpose of requiring mandatory country of origin information is to enable consumers to make
well informed purchasing decisions that suit their individual wishes and needs.
(4) New mandatory country of origin requirements should only be established if and where necessary, in
accordance with the principles of subsidiarity, proportionality, transparency and sustainability.
(5) In addition to the existing rules designed to combat misleading advertising, the rules on food
information should prohibit the indication of any particular that would mislead the consumer, particularly regarding the origin of the food. To be effective, this prohibition should also apply to the advertising and presentation of foods.
(6) Food labels should be clear and understandable to assist consumers wanting to make selective food
and dietary choices. Studies show that easy legibility is an important element in maximising the possibility that labelled information can influence its audience and that illegible product information is one of the main causes of consumer dissatisfaction with food labels. Consequently, factors such as font, colour and contrast should be considered together.
(7) Without prejudice to the existing compulsory sectoral rules on origin labelling, the indication of the
country of origin of meat, poultry, fish (wild and farm-raised), all perishable agricultural commodities (fruits and vegetables), ginseng and all kind of nuts (almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans, cashew nuts, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) should be mandatory.
(8) Given the increasing interests of consumers in the origin of alcoholic beverages, also wines and all
alcoholic beverages with an alcohol strength above 2% have to carry a country of origin.
(9) For all other food products, the indication of country of origin remains voluntary and should be
provided in a manner which does not deceive the consumer and on the basis of clearly defined criteria which improve consumers’ understanding of the information related to the country of origin of a food.
The European Union's non-preferential rules of origin are laid down in Council Regulation
(EEC) No 2913/92 of 12 October 1992 establishing the Community Customs Code1 and its implementing provisions in Commission Regulation (EEC) No 2454/93 of 2 July 1993 laying down provisions for the implementation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code. Determination of the country of origin of foods will be based on these rules, which are well known to trade operators and administrations and should ease its implementation. For foods originating in the EU, the country of origin always refers to the Member State, not to the EU as a whole.
For meat and foods containing meat, more differentiated rules should apply, taking into
account the places of birth, rearing, and slaughter. In particular, it is not appropriate to indicate only one place of origin, if it is different for birth, rearing and slaughtering. Surveys have shown that information about the place where the animals were born, reared and slaughtered is of high importance for consumers.
(12) Member States should not be able to adopt provisions other than those laid down in this Regulation
in the field it harmonises, unless specifically indicated in it. Furthermore, as national labelling requirements may give rise to obstacles to free movement in the internal market, Member States should demonstrate why such measures are necessary and set out the steps they will take to ensure that they are applied in the manner which least restricts trade.
(13) This Regulation provides the basis for the assurance of a high level of consumer protection in
relation to food information, taking into account the differences in the perception of consumers and their information needs whilst ensuring the smooth functioning of the internal market.
(14) Foods originating from third countries may only be distributed within the Union once they fulfil the
Subject matter and scope
1. This Regulation provides the basis for the assurance of a high level of consumer protection in relation to
food information concerning the country of origin, taking into account the differences in the perception of
consumers and their information needs whilst ensuring the smooth functioning of the internal market.
2. This Regulation establishes the general principles and requirements governing country of origin labelling
for food products. It lays down the means to guarantee the right of consumers to information and procedures
for the provision of food information concerning the country of origin, taking into account the need to
provide sufficient flexibility to respond to future developments and new information requirements.
3. This Regulation shall apply without prejudice to labelling requirements provided in specific EU legislation
provisions applicable to particular foods.
For the purposes of this Regulation the following definitions shall apply:
the definitions of ‘food’, ‘food law’, ‘food business’, ‘food business operator’, ‘retail’, ‘placing on the market’ and ‘final consumer’ in Article 2 and in Article 3(1), (2), (3), (7), (8) and (18) of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002;
(b) the definition of ‘processing’, ‘unprocessed products’ and ‘processed products’ in points (m),
(n) and (o) of Article 2(1) of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs;
the definitions of ‘meat’ and ‘mechanically separated meat’ in points 1.1 and 1.14 of Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 853/2004;
The following definitions shall also apply: (a)
‘mandatory food information’ means the particulars that are required to be provided to the final consumer by European Union provisions;
‘mass caterers’ means any establishment (including a vehicle or a fixed or mobile stall), such as restaurants, canteens, schools and hospitals, where, in the course of a business, food is prepared for delivery to the final consumer and is ready for consumption without further preparation;
‘prepacked food’ means any single item for presentation as such to the final consumer and to mass caterers, consisting of a food and the packaging into which it was put before being offered for sale, whether such packaging encloses the food completely or only partially, but in any case in such a way that the contents cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging;
‘ingredient’ means any substance, including flavourings, food additives and food enzymes, and any constituent of a compound ingredient, used in the manufacture or preparation of a food and still present in the finished product, even if in an altered form; residues shall not be considered as ingredients;
(g) 'country of origin' means any place where a food is indicated to come from, as determined in
accordance with Articles 23 to 26 of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92;
‘compound ingredient’ is an ingredient that is itself the product of more than one ingredient;
(i) ‘label’ means any tag, brand, mark, pictorial or other descriptive matter written, printed,
stencilled, marked, embossed or impressed on, or attached to the container of food;
‘labelling’ means any words, particulars, trade marks, brand name, pictorial matter or symbol relating to a food and placed on any packaging, document, notice, label, ring or collar accompanying or referring to such food;
‘primary ingredient(s)’ means the significant and/or characterising ingredients of a food;
‘significant ingredient(s)’ means the ingredient of a food that represents more than 50% of this food;
(m) ‘characterising ingredient(s)’ means any ingredient of a food which is usually associated with the
name of the food by the consumer and for which in most cases a quantitative indication is required;
1. Any food intended for supply to the final consumer shall comply with this Regulation regarding the
country of origin labelling.
Mandatory country of origin labelling
1. The country of origin shall be given for the following:
- ginseng and all kind of nuts (almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans, cashew nuts, peanuts,
pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts), except from coconuts
- wine and alcoholic beverages, containing more than 2%
for all of the above when used as an ingredient in processed foods.
2. The indication of country of origin shall be marked via a label in a conspicuous place in such a way as to be easily visible, clearly legible and, where appropriate, indelible. It shall not in any way be hidden, obscured, detracted from or interrupted by any other written or pictorial matter or any other intervening material.
Country of origin fair practices
1. For foods other than those listed in Article 4, the indication of the country of origin shall be provided
whenever its absence is likely to mislead consumers as to the true country of origin of that product.
2. In other cases, the provision of the indication of country of origin is left to the appreciation of food
3. In all cases, the indication of country of origin should be provided in a manner which does not deceive the
consumer and on the basis of clearly defined criteria which ensure a level playing field for the industry and
improve consumers' understanding of the information related to the country of origin of a food. In such cases
the indication shall be in accordance with the rules laid down in Article 6 of the present regulation.
Rules on determination of country of origin
1. Determination of the country of origin of foods shall be based on the European Union's non-preferential
rules of origin are laid down in Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 of 12 October 1992 establishing the
Community Customs Code and its implementing provisions in Commission Regulation (EEC) No 2454/93
of 2 July 1993 laying down provisions for the implementation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92
establishing the Community Customs Code.
2. In particular, for the purposes of this Regulation, the country of origin of a food shall refer to the origin
of a food as determined in accordance with Articles 23 to 26 of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92. For
foods originating in the EU, the country of origin always refers to the Member State, not to the EU as a
whole [see Annex I].
Country of origin for meat products
1. For meat, the country of origin may be given as a single place for animals only where the animals have been born, reared and slaughtered in the same country or place. In other cases information on each of the different places of birth, rearing and slaughter shall be given.
2. Implementing rules concerning the application of paragraph 1 shall be established by the Commission. Those measures designed to amend non-essential elements of this Regulation by supplementing it shall be adopted in accordance with the regulatory procedure with scrutiny.
1. Where the country of origin of the food is not the same as the one of its primary ingredient(s), the country
of origin of those ingredient(s) shall also be given.
2. Implementing rules concerning the application of paragraph 1 shall be established by the Commission.
Those measures designed to amend non-essential elements of this Regulation by supplementing it shall be
adopted in accordance with the regulatory procedure with scrutiny.
Residual country of origin labelling
Where there are reasons which would make it impractical to label the country of origin, the following statement may be given instead:
Voluntary country of origin labelling
Where food information covered by this Regulation is provided on a voluntary basis – as foreseen in Article
5, paragraph 2, such information shall comply with the relevant specific requirements laid down in this
Regulation. In such cases the indication shall be in accordance with the rules laid down in Article 6.
Additional country of origin labelling
Member States may introduce measures concerning additional mandatory indication of the country of origin
of foods only where there is a proven link between certain qualities of the food and its origin. When
notifying such measures to the Commission, Member States shall provide evidence that the majority of
consumers attach significant value to the provision of this information.
1. Food business operators, within the businesses under their control, shall ensure compliance with the
requirements of country of origin labelling which are relevant to their activities and shall verify that such
requirements are met.
2. Food business operators, within the businesses under their control, shall not modify the information
accompanying a food if such modification would mislead the final consumer regarding the country of origin.
3. Food business operators placing on the European Union market for the first time a food intended for
supply to the final consumer shall ensure, within the limits of their respective activities, the presence and
accuracy of the country of origin information in accordance with this regulation.
4. Food business operators responsible for retail or distribution activities which do not affect food information, within the limits of their respective activities, shall act with due care, to ensure the presence of the country of origin information requirements, in particular by not supplying foods which they know or shall presume to be non compliant, on the basis of the information in their possession as professionals, does not comply with this regulation.
5. Food business operators within the business under their control shall ensure that country of origin information relating to non-prepacked food shall be transmitted to the operator receiving the food in order to enable, where appropriate, the provision of the mandatory food information to the final consumer.
1. Food business operators, within the businesses under their control, shall ensure that the mandatory particulars
required under Article 4 shall appear on the food products or on a label attached thereto external packaging in
which the food is presented for marketing, or on the commercial documents referring to the foods where it can be
guaranteed that such documents either accompany the food to which they refer or were sent before or at the same
time as delivery.
2. Where foods are offered for sale to the final consumer without prepackaging, or where foods are packed on the sales premises at the consumer's request, food business operators shall inform the consumers about the country of origin via labels visible to them at the time of the sale.
This regulation does not cover ‘mass caterers’, such as restaurants and cafeterias.
Foods placed on the marked or labelled prior to the date of application of this Regulation which do not
comply with its requirements may be marketed until the stocks of the foods are exhausted.
In exercising the implementing powers conferred on it by this Regulation the Commission shall:
establish an appropriate transitional period after the entry into force of the new requirements, during which foods bearing labels not complying with the new requirements may be placed on the market and during which stocks of such foods that have been placed on the market before the end of the transitory period may continue to be sold until exhausted;
Entry into force
This Regulation shall enter into force on January 1, 2011.
This Regulation shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.
Done at Brussels, 26 July 2010
For the European Parliament
Annex I – Excerpt from Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 of 12 October 1992 establishing the
Community Customs Code
1. Goods originating in a country shall be those wholly obtained or produced in that country.
2. The expression 'goods wholly obtained in a country' means:
(a) mineral products extracted within that country;
(b) vegetable products harvested therein;
(c) live animals born and raised therein;
(d) products derived from live animals raised therein;
(e) products of hunting or fishing carried on therein;
(f) products of sea-fishing and other products taken from the sea outside a country's territorial sea by vessels registered or recorded in the country concerned and flying the flag of that country;
(g) goods obtained or produced on board factory ships from the products referred to in subparagraph (f) originating in that country, provided that such factory ships are registered or recorded in that country and fly its flag;
(h) products taken from the seabed or subsoil beneath the seabed outside the territorial sea provided that that country has exclusive rights to exploit that seabed or subsoil;
(i) waste and scrap products derived from manufacturing operations and used articles, if they were collected therein and are fit only for the recovery of raw materials;
(j) goods which are produced therein exclusively from goods referred to in subparagraphs (a) to (i) or from their derivatives, at any stage of production.
3. For the purposes of paragraph 2 the expression 'country' covers that country's territorial sea.
Goods whose production involved more than one country shall be deemed to originate in the country where
they underwent their last, substantial, economically justified processing or working in an undertaking equipped for that
purpose and resulting in the manufacture of a new product or representing an important stage of manufacture.
Any processing or working in respect of which it is established, or in respect of which the facts as
ascertained justify the presumption, that its sole object was to circumvent the provisions applicable in the Community to
goods from specific countries shall under no circumstances be deemed to confer on the goods thus produced the origin
of the country where it is carried out within the meaning of Article 24.
1. Customs legislation or other Community legislation governing specific fields may provide that a document must be produced as proof of the origin of goods. 2. Notwithstanding the production of that document, the customs authorities may, in the event of serious doubts, require any additional proof to ensure that the indication of origin does comply with the rules laid down by the relevant Community legislation.
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