The list of mandatory food labelling requirements under the law includes:
- The name of the food or drink product (e.g. Green Peas)
- A date of minimum durability (e.g. ‘best before’ or ‘use by’)
- Any necessary or appropriate food and drink warnings
- Information stating the net quantity of the food
- A list of ingredients and additives (if there are 2 or more)
- Name and contact address of the manufacturer, packer, or the seller
- The country of origin or place of provenance (where required)
- The lot number or use-by date
- Special storage conditions and instructions for use or cooking (if needed)
Note: A minimum font size applies to the presentation of mandatory information on food labels. You must use a font with a minimum x-height of 1.2 millimetres.
Food Labels Quantity Information
For food labelling purposes, you must show the net quantity of the product. The label must show the quantity in grams, kilograms, millilitres, or litres for:
- All types of packaged herbs and spices.
- Packaged food that weighs over five (5) grams or five (5) millilitres.
The drained net weight must show on the labels of any solid foods that are packed in a liquid (or in an ice glaze).
The net quantity and the name of the food must be close enough together to see all the information at the same time. The same rule applies when displaying the alcoholic strength on alcoholic drinks.
If you sell foods by number (e.g. 2 bread rolls) there is no need to show a weight or the volume. But, consumers must be able to ‘clearly’ see how many items there are inside the packaging.
Note: The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has further information and guidance for consumers on quantity labelling.
Using the ‘e-Mark’ Estimated Sign
Putting the e mark on a food label means you can export the product to another European Economic Area (EEA) country. Providing you meet the guidelines you would not need to meet weights and measures requirements for that country.
Note: The estimated sign or e-mark indicates that the packaging fulfils European Union Directive 2009/34/EC. A different section explains ‘weights and measures: the law’ in further detail.
Other Information You May Need to Show
Other information that must be shown on food and drink labels by law may include (if they apply to the product you sell):
- A warning for drinks that contain an alcohol content above 1.2%
- A warning if the product has been irradiated
- A warning if the product contains genetically modified ‘GM’ ingredients (unless their presence is accidental and not over 0.9%)
- Words stating that it has been ‘packaged in a protective atmosphere’ (if packaged using a packaging gas)
Showing the Country of Origin
Selling certain foodstuffs and alcoholic beverages will require you to show the country of origin, such as for:
- Beef, veal, lamb, mutton, pork, goat, and poultry
- Fish and shellfish
- Fruit and vegetables imported from outside the European Union
- Olive oil
There may be other circumstances that make it is necessary to show the country of origin. You must show it if customers might get misled without the information being there. For example, making a pizza in Britain but the label shows the leaning tower of Pisa in Italy.
Note: Check when you must label all chilled and frozen beef and veal (including minced beef and veal) with its country of origin.
Special Rules for Certain Products
The United Kingdom has extra requirements for products listed under food standards legislation. The special rules that need to show on the label would apply if you supply (any):
- Bottled water
- Bread and flour
- Cocoa and chocolate products
- Fats and oils
- Fruit juices and nectars
- Jams and preserves
- Meat and meat products
- Milk and milk products
- Soluble coffee
ALSO IN THIS SECTION
Food Labelling and Packaging | How to label food products and the legal requirements food businesses.
Ingredients List | What items needs listing on food and drink products with two (2) or more ingredients.