Country of origin labeling (COOL)
Before the adoption of the EU’s “Food Information to Consumers” (FIC) Regulation 1169/2011, country of origin labeling (COOL) was already mandatory for honey (Directive 2011/100/EC), fruit and vegetables ( Regulation 543/2011), olive oil (Regulation 1019/2002), fishery and aquaculture products (Regulation 1379/2013) and beef (Regulation 1760/2000 and Regulation 1825/2000).
The FIC regulation became applicable on December 13, 2014 and replaced food labeling Directive 2000/13/EC. Regulation 116/2011 has introduced a number of new mandatory labeling requirements, including COOL rules for meat other than beef. Article 26 of the FIC Regulation sets out detailed rules for COOL and lists the different actions the European Commission is required to undertake to further develop COOL rules for other food products and ingredients.
Mandatory COOL applies in the following cases:
- Where failure to indicate the country of origin might mislead the consumer
- For fresh, chilled and frozen pork, sheep and goat meat, poultry
- When the country of origin is given on a voluntarily basis but the origin of the primary ingredient is not the same as that of the food product (Implementing Act not yet adopted)
The FIC Regulation also requires the European Commission to carry out studies that assess the need and feasibility of extending mandatory COOL to meat as an ingredient in processed foods and to other products.
Summary of FIC provisions on COOL
- Unprocessed pork, sheep, goat, poultry: applicable starting April 1, 2015 (Implementing Regulation 1337/2013)
- Primary ingredient when different from food product: see GAIN report “European Commission Publishes Draft Rules on Dual COOL”
- Meat as an ingredient in processed foods: Commission report published (December 17, 2013)
- Other types of meat: Commission report published (May 20, 2015)
- Milk: Commission report published (May 20, 2015)
- Milk used as an ingredient in dairy products: Commission report published (May 20, 2015)
- Unprocessed foods: Commission report published (May 20, 2015)
- Single-ingredient products: Commission report published (May 20, 2015)
- Ingredients that represent more than 50% of a food: Commission report published (May 20, 2015)
Detailed information on COOL rules set out by the FIC Regulation is available in GAIN Report E14019 “The EU’s Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) Policy”.
Member State Initiatives
Since July 2016, several Member States have put forward mandatory COOL measures for certain types of food products. This proliferation of COOL measures is the result of a provision in the FIC regulation that provides a way for individual Member States to enact mandatory national measures. For detailed information see GAIN reports “EU Country of Origin Labeling – Member State Initiatives” and “EU Agriculture Ministers Divided over National COOL Measures”.