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The Regulatory Landscape for Plant-Based Lecithin and Its Labelling Requirements in Different Countries

Prized for its emulsifying properties, plant-based lecithin helps to bind together ingredients that would otherwise separate. As it is derived from plant sources such as soy, sunflower, and rapeseed, it’s considered natural. It is also a commonly used ingredient in the food and beverage industry.

Since plant-based lecithin is used globally, it’s crucial to understand the regulatory landscape surrounding it in different countries.

Importance of Understanding the Regulatory Landscape for Plant-Based Lecithin

Regulations and labelling requirements for food products vary significantly from one country to another. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in legal and financial consequences for the F&B manufacturers. As a sourcing manager or F&B business owner, it’s important to ensure that the plant-based lecithin you are using meets the regulatory requirements of the countries where you sell your products. 

While listing these requirements for all the countries can be too time-consuming, we’ve decided to keep this article focused on key market players that include the United States, the European Union, and China.

Regulatory Landscape for Plant-Based Lecithin in Different Countries

The United States

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration or the FDA is responsible for ensuring the safety and proper labelling of food products and regulates all food ingredients including plant-based lecithin. 

As per the FDA, plant-based lecithin falls in the category of GRAS ingredients. GRAS simply stands for generally recognized as safe. All ingredients marked GRAS are deemed safe for consumption under normal conditions of use by the consumers.

Labelling Requirements by the FDA

The FDA requires that all food products, including those containing plant-based lecithin, must have accurate and clear labelling. Labels must provide information on the product name, list of ingredients, allergen information, net quantity, and nutritional information.

The authority doesn’t provide any specific guidance on how plant-based lecithin should be included on the label. But it must be mentioned in the list of ingredients in food products. 

Manufacturers must make a note to follow these guidelines. Otherwise, they may have to face legal consequences for skipping regulatory compliance.

European Union

For the countries that fall under the European Union, plant-based lecithin is regulated by EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority. EFSA puts all ingredients through an evaluation process to ensure they are safe for consumption as additives and ingredients.

Labelling Requirements by EFSA

Just like the FDA, EFSA also requires that all food products being manufactured and sold in the EU must have accurate and clear labelling. The requirement for information to be mentioned is also almost exactly similar to that of the FDA. It should include the product name, list of ingredients, allergen information, net quantity, and nutritional information.

Similarly, EFSA also considers plant-based lecithin to be safe for consumption under normal conditions of use. But that’s where the similarities between the EFSA’s point of view and the FDA's end. 

EFSA goes a step further by providing guidance on the use of plant-based lecithin by including maximum usage levels and specifications for purity and quality. That’s one of the reasons why plant-based lecithin from suppliers like LECITEIN, who follow European standards, is deemed of higher quality.

China

In China, plant-based lecithin is regulated by the General Administration of Customs of China, better known as GACC. The GACC is responsible for ensuring the safety and proper labelling of all food products in the country, imported and otherwise.

Labelling Requirements in China

The labelling requirements of the GACC are more or less the same as the FDA and EFSA. The label must accurately and clearly mention information about the product name, list of ingredients, allergen information, net quantity, and nutrition.

GACC also provides clear guidance like maximum usage levels and specifications for purity and quality of plant-based lecithin added to any food product. It is important for manufacturers to follow these guidelines to ensure regulatory compliance if they wish to avoid import restrictions.

Understanding the Components of Labelling

An ingredient label is a declaration of all the ingredients in a food product, while a nutrition label provides information on the nutritional content of the food product. Most countries require that labels added to products include information on both as they help consumers make informed decisions.

Here’s a brief look at the most common contents of a food product label and a simple definition of each to clarify what they represent:

Product name

The product name should accurately describe the food product. It cannot be misleading or deceptive.

List of ingredients

The list of ingredients is exactly what it sounds like. It includes everything used in the recipe, in descending order of weight. This means that the ingredient with the highest weight is listed first, followed by the next highest, and so on.

Allergen Information

If the food product contains any major food allergens, such as soy or peanuts, the manufacturer must clearly state this on the label. This type of information helps individuals with food allergies to avoid any potential risks.

Net Quantity

The net quantity of the food product must be listed on the label, in either metric or imperial units, depending on the prevalent measuring system of the country.

Nutritional Information

The nutritional information provides the nutritional value of the serving size, calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and micronutrients.

The Importance of Accurate and Clear Labelling

Accurate and clear labelling empowers consumers to make informed decisions about what they buy and put into their bodies. The fact that it’s also necessary for regulatory compliance. Failure to comply will not only damage a company's reputation but can also land it in legal trouble. 

Partnering with a reliable supplier for sourcing plant-based lecithin is crucial for manufacturers in the food and beverage industry. A trustworthy supplier like LECITEIN ensures that lecithin is high quality, meets regulatory standards, and is properly labelled. 

We prioritise customer satisfaction by ensuring the timely and efficient delivery of all orders. If you want to learn more about our product line or have any questions regarding plant-based lecithin, feel free to contact us via email or our Contact Us page

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