Following previous communications concerning the reformulation of products due to supply chain issues linked to the current conflict in Ukraine, the FSA has now issued further guidance.
This latest guidance concerns the provisions within the existing legal framework for labelling where there is grouping of vegetables oils and provides further clarification on the application of labelling provisions in the Food Information to Consumers (FIC) Regulation.
Please note that previous guidance sent out to Local Authorities (LAs) still applies and the request for LAs to adopt a pragmatic approach in relation to supply chain matters linked to Ukraine is still in place.
The guidance describes the relevant labelling rules, including on grouping refined vegetable oils on the ingredients list when there is expected to be a variation in the use of one or more oils. It also provides guiding principles for how to provide compliant consumer information when the use of oils is expected to vary.
It is fairly self-explanatory, but in summary there are two options:
1) Grouping oils on an ingredients list in ‘varying proportions’
Refined oils of vegetable origin are exempt from the usual requirement to list each oil separately by weight, when grouped together. The ‘in varying proportions’ provision in the FIC Regulation means that:
- Refined vegetable oils may be grouped together as ‘vegetable oils’. The oils must then be specified to allow consumers to express their preferences e.g. ‘vegetable oils (sunflower; rapeseed)’.
- When the use of two or more refined vegetable oils is expected to vary, the phrase ‘in varying proportions’ may be used after the information about the vegetable origin. For example: ‘vegetable oils (sunflower; rapeseed) in varying proportions’.
When using the wording ‘varying proportions’ we would expect a percentage (more than 0%) of each specified oil remains included in the product. For example, if sunflower oil and rapeseed oil are specified, there must be an expectation that both oils will be in the product
2) Using ‘and/or’ when mutually substitutable oils make up less than 2% of the finished product
When two similar or mutually substitutable ingredients (for example similar refined vegetable oils) make up less than 2% of the finished product. In this case, using ‘and/or’ is acceptable in the ingredients lists when at least one of the oils is present in the finished product. For example, “contains sunflower oil and/or rapeseed oil”.
The use of “and/or” should not be used for vegetable oils listed in FIC Annex II as known to cause allergies or intolerances.