HomelabelsCompound ingredients and QUIDs on the label, widespread deceptions

Compound ingredients and QUIDs on the label, widespread deceptions

Consumer illusion and food label fraud are rampant on the shelves. The compound ingredients and the quantity of the characteristic elements in the recipe (QUID) are sometimes obscure, sometimes misrepresented. An in-depth study on the rules to follow.

Compound ingredients on the label

The list of ingredients  - together with name of the food  - constitutes the true identity card of a food product. Thanks to these news, the consumer can in fact understand the exact composition of the food and evaluate its quality. Since each ingredient has its own distinctive value (or negative value), in economic terms but also in terms of nutrition and health, social and environmental impact. One example above all, the use of a unsustainable  palm oil or a higher quality fat (e.g. hazelnut, sunflower) clearly distinguishes the value of a chocolate spread.

The ABC of the criteria to follow  to compile a list of ingredients that comply with the legal requirements has already been provided in previous article. We now focus on how to indicate the so-called compound ingredients in the list. That is to say those which in turn are composed of several ingredients, such as breadcrumbs and potato starch, jam or chocolate.

'A compound ingredient may appear in the list of ingredients under its designation, insofar as it is required by regulation or set by use, in relation to its overall weight, and must be immediately followed by the list of its ingredients.. ' (1).

It is therefore necessary  identify the multiple ingredient in the ingredients list, on the label, as follows:

a) name. Legal (eg. jam  of figs), where available. Otherwise usual (eg. margarine), or descriptive (eg. spreadable cream with hazelnuts),

b) location  of the compound in thelist of Ingredients', according to its quantity, according to the general rule of decreasing order of weight. That is to say that, for example, the Apricot jam used in a tart in a measure of 25% (on the total weight of the ingredients) will be included in the list after the wheat flour (50%) and before salted butter (20%),

c) composition. The individual components of the multiple ingredient must be reported - after its name, in brackets - in descending order of weight. In the example above, apricot jam (apricots, sugar, pectin gelling agent, citric acid acidity regulator).

QUID, unique value compared to the total

'The indication of the quantity  of an ingredient or category of ingredients used in the manufacture or preparation of a food is required when that ingredient or category of ingredients:

(a) appears in the name of the food or is generally associated with that name by the consumer,

b) is highlighted on the labeling by means of words, images or a graphic representation, or

c) it is essential to characterize a food and distinguish it from products with which it could be confused due to its denomination or appearance'.(2)

The quantity of the ingredient  highlighted even graphically, or in any case characteristic - so-called QUID, 'Quantitative Ingredient Declaration'- must be mentioned in the margin of his name. Alternatively, in the name of the food (eg. apricot tart 9%) or in the ingredients list. And it must be reported in percentage terms with respect to the total ingredients added to the product. (3)

'The indication of the quantity  of an ingredient or category of ingredients:

a) is expressed as a percentage and corresponds to the quantity of the ingredient or ingredients at the time of their use, e

(b) it appears in the name of the food or immediately next to that name, or in the list of ingredients in connection with the ingredient or category of ingredients in question. ' (4)

Instead, it is forbiddenit is also misleading to refer the QUID only to the quantity of the characteristic ingredient in the compound ingredient. The indication must therefore consist of a single given percentage and not a 'percentage of the percentage', which would force the consumer to perform arithmetic calculations in order to obtain the information that is due to him. This information is essential, among other things, to compare similar products available on the shelf.

QUID outlaw, some examples

Numerous labels  of sliced ​​melted cheese - as we have repeatedly denounced, in the 'saga' of 'Cheese scam'(the cheese fraud, still unpunished) - are deliberately misleading. And as such they deserve the attention of ICQRF (Central Inspectorate for the protection of Quality and the Repression of Fraud of agri-food products), AGCM (Guarantor Authority for Competition and the Market), Public Prosecutor's Office.

It is in fact boasted  the presence of characteristic dairy products (eg Emmental, Cheddar, mozzarella), through verbal and graphic evidence. With the deceptive artifice of reporting their percentage share with respect to the compound ingredient, (mixture of) cheese. Without however reporting the quantity in relation to the total of the recipe. The consumer is thus deceived and led to believe that the melted cheese in question contains a significant amount of the highlighted ingredient (eg. 60% Emmental, in Mondelez's 'Mexican' Sottilette). Whereas, on the other hand, as is known only to sector operators, the overall share of cheeses in a processed cheese is less than one third of the total. The 60% Emmental object of pride can therefore correspond, in reality, to 20% of the total.

This deception  has been repeated for years on various references of sliced ​​melted cheeses - under the Mondelez and Inalpi, among others - under the guilty starvation of the authorities of official public control and the judiciary. Although these are, in all evidence, real frauds in the trade (sale of  aliud pro alio).

Dario Dongo


(1) See reg. EU 1169/11, Annex VII, Part E (designation of compound ingredients)

(2) The specification of the ingredients is not required in only 3 cases of:

- compound ingredients whose composition is defined by EU regulations (e.g. cocoa products, jams and marmalades, fruit juices and nectars), when present in the finished product in less than 2%. Without prejudice to the presence of food additives subject to mandatory indication (i.e. excluding the hypothesis of adjuvants and additives carry over),

- 'mixtures of spices and / or aromatic plants which constitute less than 2% of the finished product, with the exception of food additives'that must be indicated,

- compound ingredient not subject to mandatory indication of the list of ingredients (eg cheeses to which no ingredients other than milk products, food enzymes and cultures of microorganisms necessary for manufacturing have been added. For the complete list see reg. EU 1169/11, art. 19)

(3) See regulation (EU) no. 1169/11, article 22

(4) See reg. UE 1169/11, Annex VIII


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