The drinks industry is committed to providing consumers with meaningful, relevant information that helps them make responsible decisions.
There are a range of labelling requirements for all pre-packaged alcohol products sold in the Republic of Ireland. In addition to displaying the product description, product name, business address, container volume, etc., the alcohol strength must be shown if a drink contains more than 1.2% alcohol. This is usually shown on labels as alcohol by volume (%ABV). Currently, alcohol drinks containing more than 1.2% alcohol are exempt from the rules to list ingredients and nutrition information on labels. In addition to adhering to legal requirements, the drinks industry has also implemented voluntary consumer information initiatives.
EU Spirits Regulation on Labelling
Regulation (EU) 2019/787 of the European Parliament details the definition, description, presentation and labelling of spirit drinks. This basically sets out the rules on the use of the names of spirit drinks in the presentation and labelling of other foodstuffs and the protection of geographical indications (PGIs) for spirit drinks. This is of a particular interest to Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream and Poitín which have been granted a geographic protection under GI regulations. This helps safeguard the reputation of spirit drink categories and GIs and to prevent consumers’ deception
Relevant EU Spirits Regulations Documents: EU Spirits Regulations
Details of GI Protection of Irish Whiskey: GI on Irish Whiskey
Details of GI Protection for Irish Cream: GI on Irish Cream
Details of GI Protection for Poitín: GI on Poitín
Country of Origin labelling
Regulation (EU) 2018/775 came into effect on the 1 April 2020. It requires that where the country of origin of a final food (or drink product) is displayed on a label and where this is not the same as the origin of the primary ingredient, then the origin of the primary ingredient must also be written on the label.
For example, where the origin of a cider is declared as Irish on the label but the apples used for the product are not Irish, then it will be a legal requirement to also give the origin of the apples on the label. This is to ensure the consumer is not mislead.
Origin (of a product) can be indicated on a label by various statements such as words, pictures (map, scene), symbols (flags), words/terms or colours/designs that refer to a geographical origin.
This Regulation shall not apply to geographical indications protected under Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 and Regulation 2019/787.
What is the Primary Ingredient?
'Primary ingredient' is defined in Regulation 1169/2011/EC as ‘an ingredient or ingredients of a food that represents more than 50% of that food or which are usually associated with the name of the food by the consumer and for which in most cases, a quantitative indication is required’ i.e a QUID declaration. It will be up to each food business operator to determine what is the primary ingredient of their drink.
If the drink contains an ingredient that is >50%, then this is straightforward. Where the drink does not have an ingredient >50%, then the ingredient(s) most associated with the drink (and where that drink has a QUID declaration) will be considered as the primary ingredient. This directive is applicable to cider products because of apples, however beer is not covered by this directive as the FSAI deem water as its primary ingredient and since all water for beer production is locally sourced then it does not require a country of origin declaration on the label.
More details can be found HERE.
The drinks industry is committed to providing consumers with meaningful, relevant information that helps them make responsible decisions. Drinks companies in Ireland often voluntarily provide information to consumers, anti-drink/drive logos, energy values, ingredient information and pregnancy warnings.
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the European Commission
In 2019 Drinks Ireland | Beer signed an MoU with the European Commission which commits the brewing sector to include nutrition and ingredient information on all pre-packaged beer products.
Drinks Ireland | Spirits also signed an MoU with the European Commission which committed the sector to include nutritional information on pre-packaged spirits products and ingredient information on brand websites.
The labelling section (12) of the Public Health (Alcohol) Act, will result in the following mandatory labelling requirements for all alcohol products sold in the Republic of Ireland:
- A warning label detailing the link between alcohol and fatal cancers
- Health warning- danger of alcohol consumption
- A warning of consuming alcohol while pregnant
- Quantity of grams of alcohol
- Calories and kilojoules (in the container concerned)
- Details of a website run by HSE providing public health information about alcohol consumption