Food Labelling Requirements

Molly Colbert

November 17, 2021

Food labelling is used to provide customers with information to aid or influence their purchasing decisions.

The information presented can give customers more awareness on what they are purchasing and can provide them with crucial information such as, the best-before or use-by date, ingredients and allergens, how to cook or prepare the food item, how to store, and the nutritional properties/content.

Providing detailed, transparent, and accurate labelling is imperative so that the consumer is fully informed of the exact nature and characteristics of the food product, allowing an informed decision to be made.

Although not all customers read the food labels provided to them, they are imperative for individuals who suffer from allergens and intolerances, hence The Food Information (Amendment) (England) Regulations (2019) being introduced this past October (2021) on prepacked for direct sale food. In April 2022, The Calorie Labelling (Out of Home Sector) (England) Regulations 2021 is going to be introduced as a part of the government's obesity initiative. The calorie labelling legislation is an example of how food labelling can be used to help customers make healthy food choices and provide information that they may not have been aware of previously.

Labelling requirements differ based on where and how food items are sold. An example of this is prepacked food purchased in cafes will have different labelling requirements than prepacked for direct sale food from the same store.  

Labelling prepacked food

All prepacked food requires a food label that displays certain mandatory information. All food is subject to general labelling requirements and any labelling provided must be accurate and not misleading to the customer. So what needs to be included?

• 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

• Alcohol ABV when greater than 1.2% could be included but only applies to alcoholic beverages

Additional labelling requirements

Some food and beverages may require additional labelling requirements if they contain any of the following:

• Sweeteners

• Aspartame and some artificial colours

• Liquorice

• Caffeine

• Polyol

What is the correct way to display food information?

There are requirements on how to display information to ensure that it is legible for all consumers.

The font must be at least 1.2mm. However, if the largest surface area of a product's packaging is less than 80cm2, then the minimum font size used can have an x-height of 0.9mm.

Symbols tend to be used to depict food information, such as the vegetarian and vegan symbols. These symbols are optional and if used need to be not easily removed or be covering any other information so that there is space for the mandatory information.  

Non-prepacked food labelling

Loose or non-prepacked foods can face challenges when labelling. They do have fewer labelling requirements compared to prepacked foods, and must be labelled with the following:

• Name of food

• Allergens present in the food

• QUID of products containing meat

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

‘Irradiated’ or ‘treated with ionising radiation’.

Prepacked for direct sale food labelling

Prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) products must be labelled with the name of the food, a full ingredient list, and any allergens present must be displayed in an emphasised text format e.g. embolden. The minimum font size is 1.2mm – the same as prepacked foods.  

These labelling regulations were introduced on the 1st October 2021 under the Food Information Labelling Regulations, commonly known as Natasha’s Law.

How can NT Assure help?

We have partnered up with Brother UK to offer in-house printing solutions, which provides reliable label printers which produce highly legible and long-lasting labels. Additionally, our team of experts have developed a PPDS labelling solution that will ensure safety, provenance, and legal compliance to clients.

Our technical services team can check existing pack copies for legal compliance and write new ones for retailers and/or manufacturers seeking professional guidance on their labels.

Smart Supplier is a product specification management solution, which can manage all product data in one place. The information required for packaging labelling is pulled from the software.

The software provides real-time food information, this ensures the labels produced are live, accurate, and validated. Additionally, Smart Supplier has several features that can help FBOs communicate with their supplier to increase collaborative working.

For more information on our PPDS labelling solution, check out this article here or request a PPDS whitepaper here.

For more information on Smart Supplier, check out this article here or request the Smart Supplier whitepaper here.

To chat to our team or get more information on our software and services, email info@ntassure.com or ring 01933 272089 📞

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References

Packaging and labelling | Food Standards Agency