New EU Rules on Wine Labelling

Rebecca Gibb reported the following in Decanter yesterday:

“The ovo- and lactose-intolerant will have greater peace of mind following the introduction of new legislation.
By Rebecca Gibb | Posted Monday, 02-Jul-2012

“Wine labels in Europe must now state whether wine contains traces of egg or milk.

“Eggs and milk products are used to clarify (or “fine”) wine and traces may remain in the final product. However, European wine producers were exempt from declaring their use until the European Commission announced in late May that new rules would come into effect on July 1, 2012. The legislation also applies to imported wines sold in Europe.

“The Commission says the new ruling is about “better informing European consumers of potential allergic risks.”

“If producers wish to market their wines in all 27 E.U. countries, they would theoretically have to provide labels in a minimum of 15 languages. To circumvent this, a series of pictorial logos has been developed, featuring pictures of a milk carton and/or two eggs – as well as the symbol for sulphites – SO2.  

“There is one exception to the new rules. If egg or milk-based products have been used during production but cannot be detected by laboratory analysis, the affected wines do not have to carry allergen labeling.

“Wines made in 2012 are exempt if they were labeled before June 30. All others from the 2012 vintage are subject to the new regulations, which were drawn up following recommendations from the European Food Safety Authority and the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV).”

Have you, or anyone you know, had an allergic reaction to wine based on the use of egg or milk-based products used in fining? Inquiring minds (this one, anyway) would like to know.

I thought I was allergic to something in red wines for about 7 (dreadful) years, until I realized the problem was all in my head.  Who knows, with those symbols, I might have thought I was allergic to milk or eggs, when, in fact, I’m really only allergic to excessive legislation.

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1 Response to New EU Rules on Wine Labelling

  1. What about clarification agents like isinglass? Are they going to request a fish symbol on the label too? It’s a regular food pyramid! The problem with the symbols, of course, is that they are open to interpretation. As an average or low-involvement consumer I would look at a milk carton and wonder what the hell it’s doing on my bottle of wine. And 2 eggs? What does that mean exactly to someone who does not read oenology books? To your question, in all my years in the restaurant business people never complained of allergies related to the use of fining agents in wine. There was one – singular – time that a woman asked me if a wine was vegan, but strictly for ethical purposes. What I mostly encountered was resistance to red wine, due to sulfur headaches, which just supports my (clichéd) point that a little bit of knowledge is dangerous!

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