European Commission Issues Guidelines on Quantitative Ingredient Declaration or QUID

Date: Jun 19, 1999

The obligation to declare the quantity of an ingredient or the"Quantitative Ingredients Declaration", commonly abbreviated as "QUID"is regulated by Article 7 of Directive 79/112/EEC as amended by Directive 97/4/EC. To helpprofessionals with the interpretation of this provision, the EC Commission has adoptedguidelines. However, they do not have force of law.

  1. Principle

  2. As a general rule, in addition to the mandatory labelling particularsas laid down by Directive 79/112/EEC on the labelling of foodstuffs, the label of afoodstuff must in certain cases declare the quantity of an ingredient (or a category ofingredients) used in the manufacture or preparation of the foodstuff. Such QUID labellingis compulsory where :

      • The ingredient appears in the name under which the foodstuff is sold (e.g. ham and mushroom pizza, strawberry yoghurt, salmon mousse) or is usually associated with that name by the consumer (e.g. for a product sold as "chilli con carne", described as minced beef with kidney beans tomatoes, peppers, onion and chilli, QUID would be required for minced beef);
      • The presence of an ingredient is emphasised on the labelling in words, pictures or in graphics.

      By way of example, emphasis in words : e.g. "with chicken", "made with butter", or "with cream" appearing on the label other than in the name under which the product is sold; Emphasis in graphics : e.g. by the use of a different size, colour and/or style of lettering to refer to particular ingredients elsewhere on the label than in the product name; Emphasis in pictorial representation : e.g. fish casserole with a prominent picture or illustration of only a selection of fish ingredients).

      However, as per the guidelines, this provision on emphasised ingredients need not be applied where (1) an image of a food as offered for sale is given; (2) a pictorial representation takes the form of a "serving suggestion" like a picture of the food shown with other foods which could accompany it, provided the nature of the pictorial representation is made clear and does not otherwise emphasise the food being sold and/or any of its ingredients; (3) a pictorial representation illustrates how to prepare the product in accordance with the instructions in the case of food mix;

      • The ingredient is essential to characterise a foodstuff and distinguish it from the products with which it might be confused because of its name or appearance. As per the guidelines, this provision is intended to meet the requirements of consumers in Member States where the composition of certain foodstuffs is regulated and/or where consumers associate certain names with a specific composition. This should be covering products whose composition can differ markedly from one Member State to another but which are usually marketed under the same name. The Commission has identified three examples: mayonnaise, marzipan, breakfast sausage. Two conditions must be met for the QUID to apply here: (1) the ingredient must be essential both to characterise the food and (2) to distinguish it from products with which it might be confused because of its name or appearance.

    The compulsory indication of the quantity of an ingredient may beextended to other cases by the Commission under specific procedures laid down underDirective 97/4/EC.

  3. Exceptions to the Labelling of QUID
  4. However, the obligation to label the quantitative ingredientdeclaration does not apply to cases where:

      • the drained net weight of the ingredient is indicated pursuant to the labelling provisions of Directive 79/112/EEC (e.g. tuna in brine, pineapple in syrup);
      • the quantity of the ingredient is already required by other EU provisions;
      • the ingredient is used in small quantities for the purposes of flavourings (e.g. this covers flavourings as defined by the Framework Flavouring Directive 88/388/EEC, but also any ingredients used in small quantities to flavour a food such as garlic, herbs, spices);
      • the name of the ingredient although appearing in the name under which the foodstuff is sold is not such as to govern the choice of the consumer in the country of the marketing because the variation in quantity is not essential to characterise the foodstuff or does not distinguish it from similar foods. In case of doubt, a procedure is laid down whereby the European Commission may classify whether these conditions are fulfilled (e.g. malt whiskey/whisky, or rye bread);
      • specific Community provisions stipulate precisely the quantity of an ingredient without providing the indication thereof on the labelling (e.g. Directive 93/77/EEC on fruit juices and certain similar products, Directive 77/446/EEC on coffee extracts and chicory extracts, or Regulation No 2991/94 on standards for spreadable fats);
      • mixtures of fruit or vegetables or mixtures of spices or herbs where no ingredient in the mixture significantly predominates in proportion by weight;
      • Other exceptions may be determined by the Commission. Hence, Commission Directive 1999/10/EC which will come into force on 31st August 1999 edicts that QUID does not apply :
      • where the words "with sweetener(s)" or "with sugar and sweetener(s)" accompany the name under which the foodstuff is sold;

      • to particulars related to the addition of vitamins and minerals in cases where those substances are subject to nutritional labelling.
  5. Indication and Presentation of QUID
  6. When QUID labelling is triggered, the quantity indicated mustcorrespond to the quantity of the ingredient or ingredients at the time of its/or theiruse in the production of the product. Such an indication must appear either in orimmediately next to the name under which the product is sold or in the list of ingredientsin connection with the ingredient or the category of ingredients in question.

    Directive 1999/10/EC lays down certain derogation to this principle:

      • For foodstuffs which have lost moisture following heat treatment or other treatment, the quantity must correspond to the quantity of the ingredient in the finished product. In such a case, the quantity must be expressed as a percentage. However, when the quantity of an ingredient or the total quantity of all the ingredients expressed on the labelling exceeds 100%, the percentage must be replaced by the weight of the ingredient used to prepare 100 g of finished product;
      • The quantity of volatile ingredients must be indicated on the basis of their proportion by weight in the finished product;
      • The quantity of ingredients used in concentrated or dehydrated form and reconstituted during the manufacture may be indicated on the basis of their proportion by weight as recorded before their concentration or dehydration;
      • In the case of concentrated or dehydrated foods which are intended to be reconstituted by the addition of water, the quantity of the ingredients may be indicated on the basis of their proportion of weight in the reconstituted product.

    For further information, please contact RachidaSemail at rsemail@khlaw.be or Lorene Courrege at courrege@khlaw.be .