In the Palace of Serbia, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management and NALED's Food and Agriculture Alliance presented a Food Labeling Guide as a tool to support businesses in implementing the Regulation that will mean greater safety for consumers since mid-May, as it provides more precise labeling for the content and quality of food bought in stores.
We have accepted NALED’s initiative and participated in the preparation of this Guide whose ultimate goal is for the consumer to obtain correct and clear information, with information not misleading the consumers, especially in terms of content, quantity, durability, origin, food characteristics, identity and food properties – said Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Nenad Vujovic, opening the expert meeting.
The guide is created in the form of questions and answers, and most of it is dedicated to nutritional information - energy value and quantity of fat, carbohydrates, sugar, protein and salt. Manufacturers will be required to indicate the quantity of these ingredients in 100g or 100 ml servings of the product. All this information must be on the same side of the packaging, i.e. in a visible field for consumers.
The Food and Agriculture Alliance recognized the need for a document that would present the food labeling rules provided in the Rules on Declarations document that comes into force on June 15, in a simple and acceptable manner. We are sure that the Guide will help everyone – those with responsibility to properly label the foods and drinks produced, the line institutions tasked with controlling the application of regulations, as well as consumers entitled to the correct information about the food and drink they consume - said the President of Food and Agriculture Alliance and General Manager of the Atlantic Group for Serbia Vladimir Čupić.
Food ingredients must be indicated on the packaging, and if they are part of the food and/or complex ingredients (e.g. mayonnaise, bread or biscuit), then their parts must be specially marked so that the data on fats, sugar or salt are repeated depending on where they are present. The amount of ingredients will also be a compulsory element so consumers will know exactly how many strawberries there are in a strawberry yogurt, how much fish in fish sticks, but also how much blackberry there is in a juice that has a picture of that fruit on the packaging.
The guide also features information on labeling allergens in food, bearing in mind that the declaration of their presence in food is mandatory. There is space for ways to emphasize whether the product contains cereals, milk, nuts, eggs or other allergens from the defined list, but they must do so (using color, style, fonts). The prescribed amount of gluten below which the product can carry the quotation ‘gluten-free’ is 20 mg/kg.
As representatives of the economy, we welcome the adoption of the Food Declaration Guide which, through clear and comprehensible explanations, makes it easier to use the Rulebook for everyone in the food chain - from producers, food business operators, consumers and inspections - said Tamara Penjić, Executive Director of Meat Production at Carnex, a member NALED's Food and Agriculture Alliance.
As neither the EU has regulated this area, Serbia has not precisely defined the use of marketing terms such as "fresh", "natural", "clean", "traditional". The guide recommends that manufacturers take care that their use does not mislead consumers. The same applies to the use of the term ‘fasting food’, because there is no national standard of what is meant by these terms, but consumers already have a developed perception of what foods these are. It is similar to the term ‘home-grown’ where producers are expected to use natural ingredients, and that food is produced from domestic raw materials.