Loose and pre-wrapped cured meats with no expiry date or TMC? The lawyer Dario Dongo answers

Good morning lawyer,

I kindly ask for your opinion on whether or not to affix the TMC or expiry date in cured meats wrapped only in casings sold loose or pre-wrapped.

Some consider it bulk food, with an exception to this obligation by virtue of the note of the Min. Economic Development of 10.10.2017.

But how do you allow to market, eg. in the baskets of free-to-buy supermarkets, cured meats without indication of the TMC or expiry date, also considering that very often the casing that contains it is indicated as edible?



The lawyer Dario Dongo, Ph.D. in European food law, answers

Dear Mauro good morning,

we have already had the opportunity to share the analysis of the notion of prepackaged (or prepackaged) foods, which excludes both a wide range of products of vegetable origin or compounds (e.g. bread and pizza sold in bulk and / or prepackaged), and some products of animal origin.

The cured meats wrapped in casing only - natural or synthetic - qualify themselves as bulk or pre-wrapped foods, depending on the circumstances. (1) Except for the only cases in which they are instead placed in an external packaging (eg packaged in a controlled or protective atmosphere).

1) Bulk and pre-wrapped foods, consumer information

The European legislator left to the Member States the legislative power on the regulation of information to the consumer relating to foods sold in bulk and pre-wrapped, as well as to foods administered by the community (EU regulation 1169/11, art. 44).

The only mandatory requirement that Member States must always guarantee - in defining the content and methods of information in these cases - concerns the obligation to indicate the presence of the allergens referred to in Annex II to reg. EU 1169/11.

2) Bulk and pre-wrapped, the mandatory information

Legislative Decree 231/17, with the application in Italy of reg. UE 1169/11, limits itself to prescribing that the following information is provided in relation to foods sold in bulk and / or pre-wrapped:

  • name of the food,
  • ingredients list,
  • allergens (3,4,5),
  • date of deadline (not even TMC) only for fresh pasta and fresh pasta with filling,
  • alcoholic strength for beverages with alcohol> 1,2% vol.,
  • % glazing (tare) of glazed frozen products,
  • 'thawed', in the cases prescribed for this purpose. (6)

3) Provisional conclusions

The indication of the expiration date (for products that are rapidly perishable from a microbiological point of view, 'to be consumed by ...') - or the minimum conservation term,'to be consumed preferably by ...'for all other foods, with a few exceptions - unfortunately it was not foreseen as mandatory on bulk and pre-wrapped foods. However, it should be considered that:

  • operators in the food sector, however, retain primary responsibility for the safety of the food they place on the market. (7) And the distribution is in turn co-responsible, as we have seen, (8)
  • the security of foods must be assessed in relation to their 'normal conditions of use', throughout the course of shelf life indicated by the operator, (9)
  • the indication expiry date or TMC on bulk and pre-wrapped foods, even if optional, therefore represents an effective risk prevention measure.



Footnotes to the story

(1) Salami, bulk or prepackaged food? The lawyer replies Dario Dongo. FARE (Food and Agriculture Requirements). 12.11.18

(2) Dario Dongo. Bulk and pre-wrapped foods, community. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 19.3.18

(3) Dario Dongo. Allergens on pre-wrapped foods, plus guarantees with Natasha's law in the UK. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 2.7.19

(4) Dario Dongo, Marta Strinati. Allergens on the menu, a lifesaver for 2 million Italians. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 20.5.19

(5) Dario Dongo. EU Reg. 2021/382. Allergen management, safety culture, food redistribution. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 9.3.21

(6) Legislative Decree 231/17, article 19

(7) Dario Dongo, Giulia Torre. Food safety, ABC operators responsibility. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 6.4.18

(8) Dario Dongo, Pier Luigi Copparoni. Responsibility of the distributor, insights. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 22.5.18

(9) Dario Dongo. Shelf-life, food safety and weight loss. An integrated approach. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 17.8.20

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