Food packaging: Mandatory information and legal requirements

The food packaging market is changing: as food packaging consumption continues to rise, laws on proper and sustainable food packaging are also becoming stricter. In this part of the 3-part series, we'll show you the most important legal requirements you need to follow for your product, as well as the mandatory food labeling information. Click here if you want to learn more about the other parts of our series, "Everything about food packaging: Tasks, application areas & material" and our "4 tips for more sustainability in food packaging"

Legal requirements for your food packaging in Germany

In general, the legal requirements for and information on food packaging in Germany can be divided into 4 pillars:

  1. Framework condition “Regulation on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food”: Framework condition for food packaging

  2. Consumer Goods Ordinance: Requirements for consumer goods and food contact materials and articles

  3. VerpackG: Packaging Act for the regulation of packaging waste

  4. Mandatory information on food packaging: EU-wide requirements for your product packaging labels

Framework for your food packaging: Regulation (EC) No. 1935/2004

The regulation on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food (1935/2004) is a Europe-wide regulation that came into force in 2004. This regulation serves as the legal basis for all food packaging. It ensures that the materials and packaging of your products do not have a negative effect on the health of your consumers. This regulation contains many relevant aspects that you have to consider for your food packaging. For example, the food description on the packaging must not mislead consumers, for example in the form of intrusive advertising or presentation (European Union, 2021).

Consumer Goods Ordinance for Food

The German Consumer Goods Ordinance (in German: "Bedarfsgegenständeverordnung" or short "BedGgstV") regulates the requirements for consumer goods and food contact materials and specifies the various materials and substances that may come into contact with your food. Every food comes into contact with different materials, regardless of whether your product is packaged or passed on to your consumer unpackaged. For example, even unpackaged products, such as fruits or vegetables, are transported in cartons. This regulation also applies to this type of packaging, as they come into contact with food. In this regulation you will find, for example, substances that must not come into contact with your food products, such as synthetic dyes, because of the potential to endanger consumers’ health (Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety, n.d.).

The new packaging law: VerpackG

In addition to the general regulations, there is the Packaging Act, VerpackG, which came into force in mid-2021 and is the answer to more and more packaging waste. The VerpackG regulates the introduction of new packaging as well as the return and recycling of packaging waste. Since the law is very extensive, we have written a separate blog post on this topic, "What does the new VerpackG mean for your brand?" (Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, 2012).

Do you need help with your individual food packaging for your products? Then book an appointment with our design service. We are also happy to advise you on general questions about individual food packaging.

Mandatory information on your food packaging

Not only the food packaging, but also the labeling of your food packaging with the correct labeling is important to inform your customers precisely about your product. For this reason, there are various specifications and guidelines that show you exactly what must be written on your packaging labels. The food industry includes on the one hand food, as explained in our blogpost"Everything about food packaging: Tasks, Application areas & material", and on the other hand, beverages. We have also addressed the topic of beverage packaging in two other blog posts: First, regarding the different beverage packaging options, and second, how to properly label your beverages. However, if you produce your own food, then the following regulation is relevant to you: The Food Information Regulation, which came into force in 2014 and applies to both food and beverages. According to the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the minimum information requirements are as follows (German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, 2021):

  1. Food name: Type and description of the product (e.g. in the case of a chocolate bar, the product category, i.e. "confectionery", and a short description, such as "chocolate snack").

  2. Indication of ingredients: All the ingredients of your product must be evident, sorted by weight percentage (for example, in the case of an almond butter, you name the ingredients to prepare the product: 98% almonds, 2% honey, etc.).

  3. Allergen labeling: This includes the 14 most important ingredients that can trigger allergies. If your product contains legumes, for example, this must be mentioned.

  4. Net quantity: Quantity of the product without packaging in volume.

  5. Best before date: How long your food is expected to last, provided the product is stored properly.

  6. Company address: The company name and address provide information about the responsibility of the product.

  7. Origin Labeling: Proof of where the product came from in the form of location and country.

  8. Instructions for use: If your product needs instructions, they must be listed, for example, how to prepare your product (e.g. in the case of a baking mix).

  9. Nutritional labeling ("Big 7"): The Big 7 includes 7 mandatory statements that inform consumers about nutritional values: 

  • Calorific value

  • Amount of fat

  • Amount of saturated fatty acids

  • Amount of carbohydrates

  • Amount of sugar

  • Amount of protein

  • Amount of salt

As you can see, there are several challenges regarding guidelines in the food packaging industry. We hope that with this blog post we could give you a first insight into this big world. If you are interested in this topic and would like to receive more information, please contact us via [email protected]. We are looking forward to your request!

Your Palamo Team <3

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