Labelling coffee and chicory extracts

The law relating to the labelling of soluble (instant) coffee is governed by the Coffee Extracts and Chicory Extracts (England) Regulations 2000.

The Regulations apply to coffee extracts and chicory extracts that are sold to consumers and catering establishments. The Regulations do not, however, apply to a product known as “café torrefacto soluble”.

Reserved descriptions

The following descriptions of products are referred to as “reserved descriptions”:

  • Coffee extract, soluble coffee extract, instant coffee and soluble coffee;
  • Chicory extract, instant chicory and soluble chicory;

The Regulations set out detailed criteria which must be met before a product can be described using one of these reserved descriptions.

The Regulations prohibit the sale or marketing of food with a label which bears, comprises or includes a reserved description unless:

  • the product corresponds with the reserved description for that product in question;
  • the description, derivative or word used is used in a context which indicates that it relates only to an ingredient of the food in question; or;
  • the description, derivative or word is used in a context whereby and it cannot be confused with one of the reserved descriptions.

Labelling

When coffee extracts and chicory extracts are sold they must be marked or labelled. The mark or label must contain the reserved description of the product.

The word “decaffeinated” can only be used in relation to coffee extract, soluble coffee extract, instant coffee and soluble coffee if the product has been subjected to a decaffeination process and if the residual anhydrous caffeine content is no higher than 0.30% of its coffee-based dry matter content. Where the word “decaffeinated” is used it must be in the same field of vision as the reserved description of the product.

In the case of liquid, or liquid forms of, coffee extract, soluble coffee extract, instant coffee, soluble coffee, chicory extract, instant chicory and soluble chicory in which sugar has been used the label must specify the name of the sugar product used and must include the words “with x”, “preserved with x”, “with added x” or “roasted with x” as appropriate. Any such wording must be in the same field of vision as the reserved description of the product.

In the case of liquid, liquid forms of and paste coffee extract, soluble coffee extract, instant coffee and soluble coffee the minimum coffee-based dry matter content must be stated on the label, expressed as a percentage.

In the case of liquid, liquid forms of and paste chicory extract, instant chicory and soluble chicory the minimum chicory-based dry matter content must be stated on the label, expressed as a percentage.

In the case of liquid or liquid forms of coffee extract, soluble coffee extract, instant coffee and soluble coffee, which contain more than 25% coffee-based dry matter the word “concentrated” can be added to the reserved description.

In the case of liquid or liquid forms of chicory extract, instant chicory and soluble chicory, which contain more than 45% chicory-based dry matter the word “concentrated” can be added to the reserved description.

The Food Labelling Regulations 1996 contain requirements as to the manner in which food should be marked or labelled.

Failure to comply with the Regulations

Contravention of the Regulations is a criminal offence punishable by a fine. However, a defence is available in certain circumstances in relation to exported products.