Having considered the matter further, Ministers have proposed a number of amendments which would allow an element of flexibility for labelling in the case of catering establishments, whilst ensuring that consumers have access to information enabling them to make informed choices. The letter encloses revised draft regulations which would allow caterers the option of conveying information to their customers via their staff rather than having to always provide written particulars. The regulations also provide for a six month lead-time to enable menus and notices etc. to be reprinted so as to alert customers to the availability of this information and to allow staff to be suitably trained to provide it. In addition the regulations also allow for the information to be provided to customers who place telephone orders without the necessity of them first having sight of a menu. Finally, the regulations do not apply to ingredients which were produced and labelled before 1 September 1998, and which therefore may not contain information about the presence of GM ingredients. Ministers have also decided to provide an exemption from the requirements for small packages and reusable glass bottles, in accordance with the requirements of the Food Labelling Directive which only allows certain information to be conveyed via their labels. Various other minor changes have been made to the earlier draft of the regulations for tidying up purposes.
Ministers have requested a further short consultation on the amendments identified above. Comments on regulation 1139/98 which is already in force are not required but comments on the revised draft regulations are requested by 28 February 1999.