FSAI publishes guidance on descriptions

21 May 2015

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has published new guidance aimed at ensuring consumers are not misled by the use of marketing terms on foods.  The guidance, says FSAI, will assist in the responsible use of marketing terms by food manufacturers, retailers and food service businesses when placing their products on the market, to […]

FSAI publishes guidance on descriptions

guidance-mouse-cursor-pressing-button-isolated-white-background-44025129The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has published new guidance aimed at ensuring consumers are not misled by the use of marketing terms on foods.  The guidance, says FSAI, will assist in the responsible use of marketing terms by food manufacturers, retailers and food service businesses when placing their products on the market, to ensure they convey clear meanings that are not misleading to consumers.

The guidance follows a public consultation carried out by a working group including the FSAI, the FSAI’s Artisan Forum, Food and Drink Industry Ireland and the Consumers’ Association of Ireland.  The guidance outlines the general legal requirements that food businesses must follow when using marketing terms on food and additionally, provides agreed guidance for the food industry concerning the use of the following specific marketing terms to describe foods placed on the Irish market:

  • Artisan/Artisanal
  • Farmhouse
  • Traditional
  • Natural

Food businesses should aim to ensure marketing terms used on foods are compliant with relevant legislation and information contained in the guidance as soon as possible, FSAI said. However, as a minimum, the information in this guidance applies to the labels of foods placed on the market and/or presented and advertised after December 2016.

According to Dr Wayne Anderson, Director of Food Science and Standards, FSAI, the new guidance goes a long way to ensuring that food marketing terms are not used incorrectly to mislead consumers.  The guidance also addresses concerns raised by small manufacturing businesses which rely on the identified marketing terms as a means of communicating the genuine differences between the foods they offer and mainstream commercial foodstuffs.

“Marketing terms are designed to resonate with consumers and are an essential part of business development in the food industry.  However, they have the potential to mislead when used incorrectly.  The guidance published today addresses this concern and is the culmination of extensive industry engagement on the issue,” said Anderson. “In particular, consumers need to be confident that the foods they purchase and consume are accurately and truthfully described on the label. Food businesses should also be confident that genuine descriptions of their food are not diluted in the marketplace by undefined marketing terms.”

“I welcome the production of this guidance which provides clarity for the general public on terms that are commonly used, but sometimes not well understood,” said Tom Hayes, Minister of State for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with special responsibility for food safety. “Consumers will now know what to expect when they see food or drink products labelled as “artisan/artisanal, farmhouse, traditional or natural”.  The guidance also offers producers reputational assurance and an opportunity to secure recognition, value and markets for food and drink products meeting these criteria.”

“Consumer confidence is essential for the development of the food industry at all levels.  The production of this guidance is an excellent example of the food sector’s commitment to excellence in communicating with consumers and of the professionalism of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland which has worked so effectively with producers and food companies to develop this guidance.”