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Food Labelling Regulations

Many people will be aware that any type of food being manufactured for sale in the UK must be labelled in accordance with British Standards, laid out by the UK Government. What some may not know though, is the reasons why these Labels are so important.

 

It’s a fact that any product label can help a consumer make an informed decision about which product to purchase, but this is particularly true when it comes to food labelling. When you think about it, labels today tell us so much – how to store and use goods safely, when to use them by, if any of them could affect our health in any way and so on…

For any Food Producer or anyone else wondering what should and should not appear on Food Labels, here is a summary for you:

 

Labelling of prepacked foods

All prepacked food requires a food label that displays certain mandatory information. All foods will be subjected to general food labelling requirements and any labelling provided must be accurate and not misleading.

 

What’s Required by Law:

The following information must appear on food labels and packaging

  • Name of the food
  • If the food has been processed in some way, then the process must be included in the title e.g. ‘smoked bacon’ smoked salmon’. A processed food is any food that has been altered in some way during its preparation
  • Storage Instructions – explain how to safely store the product when sealed and once opened.
  • The name and address of the manufacturer, packer, or seller. The address needs to be a physical address to allow the consumer the opportunity to contact the manufacturer directly with any complaint or issue relating to the product.
  • The label must clearly show where the food has come from and the origin of the main ingredients must be given if this is different from where the final product is made. For example, a Cornish Pasty that was made in Italy.
  • The country of origin must be shown for:
    • Beef, veal, lamb, mutton, pork, goat, and poultry
    • Fish and shellfish
    • Honey
    • Olive oil
    • Wine
    • Fruit & Vegetables imported from out the EU
  • Preparation Instructions on how to prepare and cook the food, including for heating in a microwave oven
  • A List of Ingredients. If you place emphasis on a specific ingredient on the packaging, then that ingredient’s percentage must be stated clearly in the ingredients list. Also, allergenic ingredients must be emphasised in such a way that they can easily be identified in the list of ingredients.
  • Nutritional declaration – this ensures your legal responsibilities but importantly allows the consumer to make informed decision on which food to buy, helping them to lead a healthier lifestyle.
  • Allergies – there are 14 allergens that by law, must be declared. They are: celery, cereals containing glutens, crustaceans, eggs, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs, mustard, peanuts, sesame, soybeans, sulphur dioxide and sulphites and tree nuts
  • Best before/Use by Dates: – allowing the consumer to store and use food safely and make informed decisions.

 

Labelling of non-prepacked foods

Non-prepacked foods or loose foods have fewer labelling requirements than those that are prepacked

What’s Required by Law:

  • The name of the food
  • The allergens present in the food
  • The quantitative ingredients declaration (QUID)
  • In the case of irradiated food, then one of the following statements must appear near the name of the food
    • ‘irradiate’ or
    • ‘treated with ionising radiation’

 

Reference Sources

 

Food Standards Agency:

Packaging & Labelling    https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/packaging-and-labelling

Nutrition Labelling:          https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/nutrition-labelling

Allergens:                            https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/allergen-labelling-for-food-manufacturers

Food Labelling Course    https://labellingtraining.food.gov.uk/

 

UK Government:                             https://www.gov.uk/food-labelling-and-packaging