Regulation or Innovation?

On 13th December 2014 the new EU Regulation 1169/2011, (Food Information to Consumers Regulation or ‘FIC’) came into force.The legislative change is such that many food and drink businesses in Europe will need to have completed their product relabeling tasks by this date including considerable changes to nutrition information on processed foods, origin labelling, the manner of allergen labelling and minimum font size.

Recent European history is littered with significant food regulatory changes : Regulation (EC) No. 1924/2006, the controversial Regulation (EU) No. 432/2012 establishing the list of general function health claims (Article 13.1 claims) published in May 2012, (Regulation (EC) No. 1334/2008) to name a few.With each of these impacting on how we formulate our food products.

It is often the first step of a food innovation project to set the regulatory landscape, as it defines the boundaries, helps focus and saves money.This focus can also be a ‘game changer’.

If you consider the scenario of whereby a functional food ingredient may significantly impact on the organoleptic delivery, be expensive and with the scope of health claims not actually allow you to market the purported benefit.In this situation your commercial strategy is changed; you ‘dig in’ for the long haul as you lobby Brussels, you redefine your food product or you redefine your market, and consider other territories that may be more ‘accommodating’.

It is easy to be negative about legislation, and whilst it may be said that it excludes smaller players as the red tape is costly, but it does in the long term add value and confidence to your product. In light of recent fraud issues in the meat supply chain, anything that returns confidence in the consumer’s eyes must be good.

Regulation may be painful, but where there is pain there is opportunity.

Food Innovation in the consumers eyes is “something everyone in favour of, likes idea of, but no one really understands”.The role of the regulator therefore helps the consumer to understand it, which in turn will allow it acceptance in the market place since after allthey have admitted to‘liking the idea of it’ .

With this in mind regulation must be seen as an opportunity – an opportunity to undertake good science, thorough validation, deliver excellence and instil confidence and trust in your consumer.This model of commitment to legislation is demonstrated by industry leaders and proves a successful model.
That said it can be frustrating