Food innovation has reached the mass market in recent years, and it is still unclear, however, how the substitute ingredients should be communicated on the label. A deepening.
1) Innovation and substitution of ingredients
I plant based food have now entered the assortment of the largest brands in the industries that produce food of animal origin - such as the giant Veronesi, most recently in Italy - and in collective catering.
Sports food and those who respond to various diets (eg. keto dietthe ketogenic diet) in turn joined the mainstream of consumption in GDO ed ecommerce. (1)
The replacement of classic ingredients - eg. meat, milk, cereals - is the distinctive element of products presented in ways that are sometimes similar to those of traditional foods.
2) Substitute ingredients and news on the label
'In the case of foods in which a component or ingredient that consumers assume is normally used or naturally present has been replaced with a different component or ingredient, the labeling bears - in addition to the list of ingredients - a clear indication of the component or ingredient used for partial or complete replacement:
a) in the vicinity of the product name, e
b) in characters whose median part (height of the x) is equal to at least 75% of that
used for the product name'(EU reg. 1169/11, Annex VI.A.4).
3) Transparency and fairness of information
Consumer information it must be fair and transparent. To meet the criteria established in Food Information Regulation (EU regulation 1169/11, articles 7 and 36), but above all to allow consumers to entrust their trust in the brand, without surprises.
'Food information does not mislead, in particular (...) suggesting, through the appearance, description or illustrations, the presence of a particular food or ingredient, while in fact a naturally present component or an ingredient normally used in such food it has been replaced with a different component or ingredient'(EU reg. 1169/11, article 7.1.d).
4) Name of the food
The name food plays a crucial role in helping the consumer to change its nature, composition and characteristics. (2) In all the hypotheses of meat-sounding, milk sounding, egg-sounding and other substitutions of the characteristic ingredients, a descriptive name must therefore be given, followed by adequate specifications that highlight the specific product characteristics of the food. (3)
The recall to usual names that consumers associate with the presence of a characteristic ingredient (eg. hamburger - beef, breadstick - wheat flour) may be admitted under certain essential conditions:
- the name of the food must describe its characteristics exactly,
- the substitute ingredients must be displayed next to the name itself (see supra, para. 1),
- the information as a whole must in no way mislead the consumer (see supra, by. 3).
5) Provisional conclusions
The courage to innovate it requires just as much courage, as well as fairness, in communicating innovation. With facts and data - all the better if attested with innovative technologies, such as blockchain public (4) - instead of self-referencing.
(1) Sports food and ketogenic diet, product classification. The lawyer Dario Dongo answers. DO (Food and Agriculture Requirements). 31.5.22/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.foodagriculturerequirements.com/archivio-notizie/domande-e-risposte/alimenti-per-sportivi-e-dieta-chetogenica-classificazione-merceologica-risponde-l-avvocato-dario-dongo
(2) Dario Dongo. Name of the food. GIFTS (Great Italian Food Trade). 21.8.17/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/denominazione-dell-alimento
(3) Without neglecting the QUID. V. Dario Dongo. Compound ingredients and QUIDs on the label, widespread deceptions. GIFTS (Great Italian Food Trade). 1.6.19/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/ingredienti-composti-e-quid-in-etichetta-inganni-diffusi
(4) Dario Dongo and Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. Agricultural SMEs, Fund for Innovative Investments 2022. Blockchain at the center. GIFTS (Great Italian Food Trade). 8.5.22/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/mercati/imprese-agricole-pmi-fondo-per-gli-investimenti-innovativi-2022-blockchain-al-centro