Food labeling. The 46th Meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) was held in December 2023, at which various issues related to food labeling and its amendments were discussed. The draft standard for the revision of the general standard for Preventive Allergen Labeling (PAL) and the draft guidelines on the labeling of prepackaged products marketed through e-commerce were approved. The work plan for the reform of the general food labeling standard to include the labeling of prepackaged products in multipack format was also approved. The approved drafts could be definitively adopted by Codex in 2024 and could then begin to function as regulatory guidelines for each Codex member country in the region.
During the meeting, the CAC adopted the draft presented by the Codex Committee on Food Labeling (CCFL) on allergens. This document seeks to establish “consistent and clear” regulations to help protect people with food allergies at the global level, for example by mentioning “contains WHEAT” on the back of the food package. The adopted draft reforms the current list of allergens, including specific allergen names to be published for gluten-containing cereals, crustaceans, fish, eggs, peanuts, sesame, and various tree nuts.
Regarding the discussion on food labeling in products marketed through e-commerce, the draft seeks to ensure that consumers who buy these foods have the necessary information to make decisions on their purchase. In this regard, it proposes that the food information included on the physical label should also be included on the product information web page, respecting the current regulations on nutritional labeling in each country.
On the other hand, with regard to labeling in multipack format, the work plan adopted seeks to create a standard that harmonizes this type of labeling, in order to provide consumers with information on each of the products that are purchased, whether in individual format or in multi-unit packages. In line with the latter, the CAC agreed to initiate new work on the labeling of prepackaged foods in co-packaged and multipack formats at at least four sessions of the CCFL, with a view to having a draft adopted by 2028.
The approved drafts will return to the Codex Committee on Food Labeling (CCFL) to add the approved amendments prior to their publication in Codex. The work plan for the reform of the general standard for prepackaged foods, on the other hand, will be returned to the CCFL, which will begin to study this new reform of the standard with the aim of making it part of Codex as of 2028. Although these documents are not binding or obligatory for Codex member countries, they are usually taken into account as models by the region’s health authorities when implementing regulations on the subject.