Duck fat, eggs…For several months now, food manufacturers have been struggling to get their hands on these ingredients to make their products. Already exposed last spring to an oil shortage, triggered by the war in Ukraine, here they are today faced with supply tensions linked to the avian flu epidemic which has been raging in France since November 2021. This episode, the most serious of its kind that France has experienced, led to the slaughter of more than 19 million poultry.
As it had done in April for oil, the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) authorizes them to review their recipe without having to modify their packaging. “Faced with these tensions, some manufacturers are forced to make composition changes in a period of time incompatible with the printing of new packaging”, explains the DGCCRF in a statement .
The derogation from the labeling obligations granted to manufacturers will only have a maximum duration of three months, compared to six months for the replacement of sunflower oil. And a professional wishing to modify one of his compositions must first submit a request to the DGCCRF.
Setting up an in-store display
However, certain rules must be observed. Firstly, the modifications must not endanger the safety of consumers, in particular with the introduction of substances or products causing allergies or intolerances.
Then, in the event that the modification made to the initial recipe has the effect of “substantially impacting the quality of the foodstuff and/or the fairness of the information provided to the consumer”, information that is “explicit, readable and visible” must still appear on the product label, state services indicate.
This is the case, for example, if the terms “GMO-free”, “from organic farming” or “raised in the open air” are no longer respected. The information must then appear clearly on the packaging with the addition of a label or by hiding the mention concerned. If this is not possible, manufacturers must at least write the mention “DEROG” on their products.
Finally, the DGCCRF imposes to inform the consumer as much as possible with the setting up of a display in store in the departments concerned by the derogations as well as at the entrance and at the checkouts. “The e-commerce sites will also inform consumers for each reference concerned,” she recalls.
More than 4400 references concerned
These constraints are identical to those imposed on manufacturers last spring when they were authorized to modify the composition of certain food and cosmetic products using sunflower oil.
All the products affected by these labeling exemptions are listed on the Fraud Prevention website, which consumers are invited to consult. Nowadays, some 4,478 references are listed there . “The DGCCRF will ensure through its controls the proper application of the system and compliance with the agreed labeling obligations”, she assures.