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What are the UK Food Labelling Regulations?

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London, England - September 14, 2007: Food labeling Guidelines Showing Nutritional Information and Daily Calorie Intake Guide

If you’ve just started out in the food industry, then you’re probably aware that any type of food being produced for sale in the UK needs to be labelled in accordance with British Standards. The regulations for the labelling of food in the UK are laid out by the government. But why are food labels so important? And what are your obligations as manufacturer when it comes to food labelling?

Any product label helps a consumer to make an informed decision about which product to purchase, but this is especially true of food labelling. If you think about it, labels today tell us so much – how to store and use foods safely, when to use them by, if there are any health considerations and so much more.

For anybody working in the food industry who is unsure of what their labels must include by law, or for anyone else wondering what should and should not appear on food labels, we’ve put together a quick guide for you:

What information is required on the labels of prepacked foods?

All prepacked food requires a food label that clearly displays particular mandatory information. All foods are subject to general food labelling requirements and any labelling provided must be entirely accurate and not misleading.

What’s Required by Law:

The following information must appear on food packaging and labels:

  • Name of the food
  • If the food has been in any way processed, then the specific process must be included in the title. Smoked bacon or smoked salmon are good examples of this. A processed food is any food that has been altered in some way during preparation.
  • Storage instructions – an explanation of how to safely store the product when sealed and also once opened must be included.
  • The name and address of the manufacturer, packer, or seller. The address needs to be a physical address so that the consumer has the opportunity to contact the manufacturer directly if they have any complaints or issues relating to the product.
  • The label must show where the food has come from and also the origin of the main ingredients if this is different from where the final product was 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. As well as fish, shellfish, honey, olive oil, wine and fruit and vegetables that were imported from outside of the EU.
  • Preparation instructions on how to prepare and cook the food, including for heating in a microwave oven.
  • A list of Ingredients. If emphasis is placed on a specific ingredient on the packaging, then that ingredient’s percentage must be clearly stated in the list of ingredients. Also, allergenic ingredients must be emphasised in bold so that they can be easily identified.
  • Nutritional declaration – this ensures your legal responsibilities but more importantly allows the consumer to make informed decisions about which food to buy, helping them to lead a healthier lifestyle.
  • Allergies – there are 14 allergens that must be declared by law. 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 – this allows the consumer to store and use food safely.

What information is required on the labels of non-prepacked foods?

Loose or non-prepacked 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 either ‘irradiate’ or ‘treated with ionising radiation’ must appear by the name of the food.

If you’d like to talk more about your labelling requirements or for us to look over your design for you, then don’t hesitate to call us today at RGS Labels.