Are You Suffering with FIR-a-Phobia?
The dreaded Food Information Regulations (FIR) are back

Where Does FIR-a Phobia Come From?

FIR-a-Phobia is associated with new legislation which comes into effect on the 13th December 2016, forming the second phase of the EU’s Food Information Regulation or FIR for short (it's worth noting that, while our current position in Europe may be in flux, the directive does still remain law). FIRs were created to make life easier for everyone but for some, they seemed to develop into a beast of a task.

They were initially introduced in 2011 to simplify the hugely varied and often misleading food labelling being produced throughout the UK and Europe. The EU set about tackling this epic undertaking with a set of rules designed to make it much easier for consumers to read and understand what was actually in their food. Phase one - which for many is the root of their FIR-a-phobia - became law in December 2014. It covered everything from the layout and size of text on labelling, to banishing misleading statements and images. Perhaps, most importantly, it became a legal requirement for all food providers to communicate the presence of 14 potential allergens within their food products. And if there are any real monsters in this tale then these allergens are them because, to some people, they can be deadly. However, with the second deadline now looming, some providers are now seeing their FIR-a-phobia return at the prospect of further changes to come.

How Will the FIRs Effect Me? 

First up, if you're a provider who makes products fresh on site, or sells foods through an off-premises outlet (such as a van), you don't need to change anything on your labelling at this time. This said, if you:

  • Are making a nutrition and / or health claim about a product And / Or 
  • Would like to add nutritional information to your products anyway 

You must follow the rules outlined for pre-packaged food providers (below) - and do so in full otherwise you will be breaking the law. This applies to all providers looking to apply nutri data to products ahead of the December deadline regardless of whether your items are freshly made or pre-packaged.

For those working in the prepacked market a MANDATORY DECLARATION must be added to your products. Typically this would be on the back of pack where there is more space however, any surface is acceptable as long as the data appears in the same field of vision. This is to avoid cherry picking information for the front of pack that could otherwise mislead consumers.

The MANDATORY DECLARATION must state (in this order and given unit(s) of measurement):

Energy value in both:

  • kilojoules (kJ) and 
  • kilocalories (kcal)

Plus the quantity (in grams (g)) of:

  • Fat
  • Saturates
  • Carbohydrates
  • Sugars
  • Protein
  • Salt

In addition to the MANDATORY DECLARATION you can also state (in grams only) the quantities of one or more nutrients from the VOLUNTARY SUPPLEMENTARY DECLARATION as well. These include: mono-unsaturates, polyunsaturates, polyols, starch and fibre - plus some vitamins and minerals too. Where health and / or nutrition claims are made about a product the relevant nutrient (e.g. ‘high in fibre’) must be included in both the Reference Intakes (RIs) - as a percentage - and as an absolute amount too.

Providers should also be mindful that: 

  • As previously mentioned, nutri data needs to appear in the same field of vision. This said providers are able to replicate information on the front of pack but in one of two ways only. Either: Energy value (in both kilojoules (kJ) and kilocalories (kcal)) Or -Energy value (in both kilojoules (kJ) and kilocalories (kcal)) + the quantity (in grams (g)) of fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt
  • Sodium cannot be stated in place of salt as this can be misleading. However, providers are required to highlight on pack if a product is low in salt and may address if a high salt content is due to high levels of naturally occurring sodium 
  • Cholesterol and trans-fats cannot be declared
  • Mandatory and / as appropriate supplementary declarations need to appear in the order as shown in the table on the right.
  • The text on labelling should go no smaller thn 1.2mm or around 6.5 points.

Seeking Support

Planglow has been providing specialist labelling software to the catering  industry for three decades. What’s more, with a customer service team,  five dedicated regional account managers and a technical support team  with 50+ years combined industry expertise, we always offer truly  outstanding support whether you're suffering with FIR-a-phobia or not.  From help finding the right label to setting up bespoke labelling  templates, we’re only ever a phone call away and more than happy to drop in should you need some additional and / or on-site assistance. 

We currently offer three FIR-a-phobia banishing ways to help you create nutri labelling for your products: LabelLogic; NutriLogic + LabelLogic combined; LabelLogic Live. 

For further information about our software solutions please click on the links above or get in touch. For more detail on the Food Information Regulations, please visit the sites below. 

Nutrition Legislation Information Sheet

Nutrition Technical Guidance


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