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#1 Simon

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 08:58 AM

I gave my son a packet of sweets (love hearts) yesterday and they sent him into a hyperactive delirium. That sounds serious; he was ok, not ill or anything, just a bit crazy for a couple of hours. When I tried to read the ingredients on the packaging to see what might have caused this the text was so small I could not read it. I have ok eyes and would definitely have needed a magnifying glass to read them. I got me wondering is there a legal minimum for the font size of ingredients on packaging.

Does anyone know?

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#2 Charles.C

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 06:22 AM

Dear Simon,

I had a very quick IT look on this.

Amazingly, the current answer may be no EC specification, see this IMO fascinating document -

http://www.worldfood...ms/?pid=1004318

(anyone feel free to expand / amend the above info. )

Equally amazingly, the same comment also seems to apply to UK medicines -

http://www.mhra.gov....n/con007554.pdf

BTW, I also learnt a new word from second link - "posology" . sounds very political. :smile:

Rgds / Charles.C


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#3 Simon

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 09:18 PM

Very strange Charles. I couldn't find anything here either: Understanding labelling rules

Really does surprise me. All of the stuff has to be on the label, but it doesn't matter if the consumer can read it or not. It can't be right. We must be missing something. :dunno:


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#4 Cathy

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 12:00 AM

For USDA products, for the ingredient statement there is no minimum font size but it is stated that it must be 'legilbe' . I am not as familiar with FDA items and their labels. I suspect 'legible' is not defined....perhaps in your case it was legilbe...with a micriscope!


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#5 Jarve

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 03:28 PM

As the information is to be found in the FSA "best practise guide to food labelling" pages 31- 42, this would suggest that font size is not specified in law but suggested in "best practise" guides.

On that note how many people note the aspartame warning on chewing gum wrappers? "contains a source of Phenylalanine" which is legislated.


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#6 Simon

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 08:42 PM

For USDA products, for the ingredient statement there is no minimum font size but it is stated that it must be 'legilbe' . I am not as familiar with FDA items and their labels. I suspect 'legible' is not defined....perhaps in your case it was legilbe...with a micriscope!

Legible to who? It's a it airy fairy as we say over here. :smile:

As the information is to be found in the FSA "best practise guide to food labelling" pages 31- 42, this would suggest that font size is not specified in law but suggested in "best practise" guides.

Jarve,

Do you have a link to the FSA - best practise guide to food labelling?

Thanks,
Simon
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#7 Charles.C

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 09:04 AM

Dear All,

Interesting topic IMO.

Actually the USA seems to hv a minimum limit, 1 sixteenth inch –

http://www.foodnavig...s-and-obstacles

and Canada also, 1.6mm ( = 1/16 in I think, surprise, surprise !)

http://www.lcbotrade...equirements.pdf.

No doubt there are others, possibly nationally in the EC also, for very good reasons one would think. Perhaps this is a consequence of the digital revolution :angry:

1.6 mm doesn't "sound" very much either ?, what was yr example size Simon ?

Rgds / Charles.C


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#8 a_andhika

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 12:52 PM

Dear Simon,

So sorry to hear that, I hope your son is okay.

Humm, another interesting problem from labelling. But I have another question, why it has to be made so small? Because the limited size of packaging? Even the size of primary pack is so small, IMO the manufacturer should write any important info with clearly, either on the secondary or tertiary pack, which able to read by the intended costumer.

But I am still wondering.. if the font size is mandatory and has a strict regulation, then it also directly affect the packaging size, is it practicable? If the products is harmful for some persons (allergens), then it should has particular font size. If it doesnt, does it has to follow the regulatory too? Highly speculative, I guess this is why the font size hasnt has any mandatory regulation (yet).


Regards,


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#9 Theo

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 02:40 PM

Hello all,

I checked up Codex [which should have the final say I blve] and what I saw was interesting. THe Codex General Standard for Pre-Packaged Foods [Codex Stan 1-1985] says "Statements required to appear on the label by virtue of this standard[]shall be clear, prominent, indelible and eadily legible by the consumer under normal conditions of purchase and use"

As you will agree with me this statemnent can be intepretated in several ways depending on how it suits the consumer or the manufacturer. i.e. what is easily legible for me might not be so for my pops [who is over 70].

Also how do you define "normal conditions of purchase and use" i.e. what might be a normal condition of purchase for me in West Africa might not be a normal condition of purchase to Simon in the UK and vice versa. So I think the scenario we have now is everyone clamouring for the right and corect info to be given on the package but how its given is left to the manufacturer which I would say defeats the whole purpose of labelling in the first place.

THEO

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#10 Simon

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 09:52 PM

Thanks everyone for your replies.

1.6 mm doesn't "sound" very much either ?, what was yr example size Simon ?

Not sure Charles but I think it was much smaller than 1.6 mm, perhaps half that. As Arya says the size of font depends on the pack size, so I suppose it is difficult to regulate. The sweet packet was small, but the ingredients could have been much bigger.

By the way thank for the document Theo.

Regards,
Simon
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#11 redchariot

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 07:11 PM

There is new proposed legislation by the EU which if implemented will set a minimum print size of 3mm. However, the retailers and food manufacturers are in general against this new proposal as with all the info required on packaging, this will not be feasible in many cases particularly in small packs like chewing gum


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#12 Simon

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 08:48 PM

There is new proposed legislation by the EU which if implemented will set a minimum print size of 3mm. However, the retailers and food manufacturers are in general against this new proposal as with all the info required on packaging, this will not be feasible in many cases particularly in small packs like chewing gum

Thanks for update Redchariot. Maybe 3mm is not practicle in every case but I am sure it is perfectly possible for many products. Do you know where the proposed legislation is up to and where we can keep up to date with proceedings?

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Simon
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#13 a_andhika

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Posted 06 November 2008 - 02:11 AM

Dear Simon,

Maybe what redchariot mean is this proposal:

http://ec.europa.eu/..._ep_council.pdf

I've highlight some info that related with your topic:
"Without prejudice to specific Community legislation applicable to particular foods as regards to the requirements referred to in Article 9(1)(a) to (k), when appearing on the package or on the label attached thereto, the mandatory particulars listed in Article 9(1) shall be printed on the package or on the label in characters of a font size of at least 3mm and shall be presented in a way so as to ensure a significant contrast between the print and background." (Point 1, Article 14, page 30)

Seems unpracticable, but then the EU commission add another regulation:
"The minimum font size referred to in paragraph 1 shall not apply in case of packaging or containers the largest surface of which has an area of less than 10 cm2." (Point 4, Article 14, page 30).

But then, if the surface area of primary packaging is less than 10 cm2, then it suppose to be attached on the secondary or tertiary (which I guess have a larger area), or it no need to attached? I still cant find the answer on the article (well I admit that I havent read it throughly:P)


Regards,


Arya


Edited by a_andhika, 06 November 2008 - 02:37 AM.

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#14 Simon

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Posted 07 November 2008 - 08:54 PM

Thanks Arya I will take a look and revert later.

Take Care,
Simon


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#15 Charles.C

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 07:04 PM

Dear Arya,

Very impressive find. :thumbup:

85 pgs for a proposal !! Unfortunately I fell asleep before reaching pg 30. Secondary and tertiary sounds very exciting though ? :smile:

Did notice there is a section on fraud. Maybe related to the font size ?

Rgds / Charles.C


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#16 a_andhika

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 01:23 AM

Dear Charles C.,


After I take a look (well, briefly) the proposal again, I cant find any statement that may answer my question. But I think the legal agreement was concerning about labelling, which I assume the first thing that a consumer may figure out, and which is the primary pack. And I think its an obligatory to a company to have more than 10cm2 primary pack. surface if they had some particular information that must be known by the consumers.

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#17 Jean

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 06:31 AM

Hi Simon!

I happened to read that artificial colours on foods and drinks are linked to hyperactivity in children, that is when I remembered your post about some sweets that made your son hyperactive.

Slightly off topic (with regards to font size), but hope this information will be useful.

“EU plans warning labels on artificial colours”

Study suggests link with hyperactivity in children
http://www.guardian....rink.foodsafety

Food and drinks containing any of six artificial colourings that may be linked to hyperactive behaviour in children will have to carry warnings, under a proposed EU deal.

The requirement would apply to imports as well as those made in the EU.

Hundreds of products containing the colourings will disappear from shops over the next year following the Food Standards Agency's (FSA) call for a voluntary ban on their use in food products.

The agency wants ministers to push for the colourings to be removed across Europe, believing a study from Southampton University showed a "direction of travel" between them and children's behaviour, despite the lack of evidence of a biological causal mechanism. EU safety advisers have begun a review of recommended daily intakes of additives.

The requirement for labelling, which would warn consumers that products "may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children", emerged in negotiations between MEPs, the European commission and the council of ministers over a new structure for authorising additives, flavourings and enzymes in food. It has to be approved by ministers later in the year and firms will be given time to comply, probably until mid-2010.

Major manufacturers such as Cadbury Trebor Basset, Nestlé UK and Unilever, as well as own-brand retailers such as Tesco, Asda and Marks & Spencer, say they either do not use the colourings or will have removed them by the end of the year, well in advance of Britain's voluntary ban, which starts at the end of 2009. Several big players began replacing them in response to consumer demand years ago, and some manufacturers of products for which new formulations were seen as technically difficult, including mushy peas, battenberg cake and turkish delight, have successfully made them without artificial colouring.

Coca-Cola, whose most famous product has never contained any of the colourings involved, says it has been moving towards the use of non-artificial colours, flavours and preservatives for some years.

The FSA believes it has much to do to ensure that small and medium-sized companies, including caterers and restaurants, adopt their ban, while it is unclear whether the EU labelling rules would apply to the catering industry. The E-numbers in question, tartrazine (E102), quinoline yellow (E104), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), ponceau 4R (E124) and allura red (E129), already have to be listed on products; MEPs added the warning requirement after publication of the Southampton study and the FSA's action.

Anna Glayzer, coordinator of the Food Commission's Action on Additives campaign, said: "Why not simply ban these colours? ... We know they affect children and serve no useful purpose in our food."

The Food and Drink Federation said a voluntary ban was unnecessary, and questioned whether it was workable, as it did not apply to imports.


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#18 Simon

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Posted 15 December 2008 - 09:38 PM

Thanks very much for remembering and taking the time to post the link Jean. I will certainly keep my eye on this topic as I firmly believe that certain foods or food ingredients can affect the behaviour of children.

Thanks again,
Simon


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#19 agwanda

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 10:07 AM

For USDA products, for the ingredient statement there is no minimum font size but it is stated that it must be 'legilbe' . I am not as familiar with FDA items and their labels. I suspect 'legible' is not defined....perhaps in your case it was legilbe...with a micriscope!


Dear Cathy,

I do agree with you that the fomnts must be "legible". IMO legibility should be wodely acceptable-to mean clear and conspicous. Thuis I would consider microscopic font sizes as a non compliance.

I think any piece of legislation is often mandatory and thus not subjective. Referring to the case Simon had, the sweet manufacturers should review their labeling systems so that their consumers do not feel cheated.

Regards,

Agwanda
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The sky is the limit..........!

#20 GMO

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 03:50 PM

This is an interesting topic for me as I feel my new employer needs to look into this but here's some guidance from the FSA. Not sure if it's up to date with the new stuff.

It seems to recommend 8pt as ideal.


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