Meat and dairy producers are allowed to use existing packaging until the end of the year. From 2018, all dairy and meat products, including ready-to-eat meals, must display the origins of meat and dairy ingredients on their packaging.
Staring next year, all new product labels displayed on consumer foods must always include the country of origin for dairy and meat, according to a new produce act that came into effect Thursday.
Then-Minister of Agriculture Kimmo Tiilikainen signed in the act in April. The new legislation affects milk and whole meats as well as processed products such as microwaveable convenience meals. No labelling regulation has existed for dairy in Finland before.
Then-Minister of Agriculture Kimmo Tiilikainen signed in the act in April. The new legislation affects dairy and whole meats as well as processed products such as microwaveable convenience meals. No labelling regulation has existed for milk in Finland before.
The obligation can be lifted only when a domestic meat or milk product displays a graphic reading «Hyvää Suomesta» («Good [food] from Finland») on its packaging, guaranteeing that the product in question is Finnish in origin.
When the country of origin for ingredients varies, the labelling must indicate whether the meat or dairy is from within or without the EU.
Food producers are allowed a transition period before complying with the new law, as products that have been packaged and shelved before June 1st may be sold out without having to remove them to update the product data.
In addition, packaging materials acquired before the law change may be used until the end of August – and they will not be scrutinised even after that until the year is out, says Sebastian Hielm from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
«We believe that the additional information provided on packaging will be managed well from the get-go,» Hielm says. «This is also a question of being reasonable, as producers can’t be expected to dispose of tin cans or plastic wrapping that they have already purchased for use.»
Hielm says that normally similar law changes allow for transitions of up to a full year. The labelling act now begins as a two-year pilot phase, after which the Ministry will re-assess the situation.
«We mean to let consumers themselves voice their concerns as to the visibility of informative product labelling,» Hielm says.