Food Labelling Regulations | Food Packaging

Katie Paterson

March 10, 2021

The aim of food labelling is to provide consumers with information which may influence their purchasing decisions.

Consumers may want to know what ingredients are in a food product, how to cook it, how it should be stored, its best-before or use-by date, its fat content or other nutritional properties. Detailed, transparent and accurate labelling is essential to inform the consumer as to the exact nature and characteristics of the food product, enabling them to make a more informed choice.

“Customer choice” has been the mantra in retail for decades.

Labelling requirements that were once solely the challenge for the retail sector are now starting to apply to hospitality businesses.

Twenty years ago food labels did not need to declare allergens, nutrition information was optional, species of vegetable oils were not required and labelling species and catchment areas for fish was considered impossible. Now this is all required on prepacked foods.

It is widely accepted that not all customers read food labels, however, the direction of travel for all food business operators is that mandatory labelling requirements are here to stay and with The Food Information (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2019 coming into force in October this year and The Calorie Labelling (Out of Home Sector) (England) Regulations 2021 expected in 2022, FBOs really do now need to know what is in the food they sell.

There are different labelling requirements based on where or how they are sold. For example, prepacked food purchased in a supermarket has different labelling requirements than loose foods or foods prepacked for direct sale foods in the same store.

Labelling of prepacked foods

What needs to be included on the packaging?

- Name of the food

- List of all ingredients

- Allergens must be highlighted

- Address and name of the manufacturer

- Quantitative declaration of Ingredients (QUID)

- Net quantity

- Storage conditions/instructions

- Use by/Best before date

- Country of origin/place of provenance

- Preparation instructions

- Nutritional declaration

Additional labelling requirements

Some foods and drinks have additional labelling requirements if they contain the following ingredients:

- Sweeteners or sugars

- Aspartame and colourings

- Liquorice

- Caffeine

- Polyols

How to correctly display food information.

There are also requirements on how this information is displayed to make sure it is legible for everyone.

Font must be at least 1.2mm big. However, if the largest surface area of packaging is less than 80cm squared, you can use a minimum x-height of 0.9mm.

Symbols are often used to depict food information, for example the vegetarian/vegan symbols. This information must be clearly displayed and not easily removed, not covered up by any other information and clearly legible.

Non-prepacked food

Loose or non-prepacked foods can be challenging to label. They have fewer labelling requirements than prepacked foods.

They must be labelled with the following

- The name of the food

- The allergens present in the food

- The QUID of products containing meat

If the food is irradiated, one of the following statements must appear in close proximity to the name of the food:

- ‘Irradiated’ or ‘treated with ionising radiation’.

Prepacked for direct sale food

Prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) products must be labelled with the name of the food, the full ingredient list and any allergens present must be emphasised.

The minimum font size is 1.2mm, the same as for prepacked foods.

These labelling rules begins October 2021 under the Food Information Labelling Regulations, also known as Natasha’s Law.

Use this chart to find out if you are selling PPDS products?

If you need a print solution to achieve compliance with Natasha’s Law, we have partnered up with Brother to offer an in-house printing solution, providing reliable label printers producing highly legible, long lasting labels.

Our team have developed a digital prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) labelling solution, to allow food businesses to ensure safety, provenance and legal compliance is achieved.

Our solution is futureproof and scalable, allowing businesses to store their food data on a centralised system and print labels in real time. All information is stored digitally, therefore it is much easier to maintain security and reduce possible human errors.

For more information, we have lots of articles on PPDS like this one. Prepacked for Direct Sale Solution | Natasha's Law 2021 | PPDS | NT Assure

NT’s Food Labelling Services

If you are a retailer or manufacturer looking for professional guidance to label your products, our technical services team can check your existing pack copies for legal compliance, or write new ones for you.

Smart Supplier is our product specification management solution, managing all your product data in one place, the information on your packaging is derived from Smart Supplier.

Smart Supplier is a specification management solution, it provides real-time food information ensuring labels are live, accurate and validated. It has established itself as the industry standard and has many features that help food business operators communicate with suppliers to increase collaborative working.

If you’re interested in our product labelling services, get in touch on 01933 272089 or email info@ntassure.com

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References

Packaging and labelling | Food Standards Agency