Legislation in regards to Food Labelling and Packaging

In regards to the food industry, there are various rules which must be followed to ensure that consumers are safe from any dangerous products or from any allergens which could prove harmful.There are various different legislations in regards to Food Labelling, Ingredients List, Food and Drink warnings, Nutrition and Health Claims and Organic Food.

Food Labelling:

  • In the UK, to be able to sell food and drink, the labels that the company use must adhere to certain standards. These are that the label must be clear, easy to read, permanent, easily understood, easily visible and not misleading. This is to ensure that everyone can read the information and then make informed decisions about the product.
  • You must also include the following information about the product on the front. The name of the food, a ‘best before’ or a ‘use by’ date (at least information on where to find it on the packaging). Any necessary warnings that may be needed, for example allergens. If there are more than two ingredients then they must be listed on the product. The name and address of the manufacturer, packer or seller must also included, the Lot Number for the product, any special storage solutions and instructions for use/ cooking if they are necessary..
  • The quantity must be stated on the product in grams, kilograms, millilitres if the food is over 5g or 5ml, and if it is packaged herbs and spices. All solid foods packed in a liquid must show the drained net weight as well, such as baked beans, this is so that the consumers are not mislead about the product. However you don’t have to show the weight of a product if foods are sold by number presuming that you can see the number of items clearly inside the packaging. Such as if you are selling two rolls of bread.

  • To be able to export your food product to another European Economic Area country without having to meet weight and measure requirements, then an’℮’ mark must be present on the packaging.

Ingredients List:

  • If your food or drink product has 2 or more ingredients (including any additives), you must list them all. Ingredients must be listed in order of weight, with the main ingredient first.
  • If, within your product, there are more than two ingredients (this includes additives) then they must all be listed in order of weight with the main ingredient first. The percentage of each ingredient must also be shown if an ingredient is highlighted by the labelling or a picture on the package for example ‘Extra Cheese’. If it is mentioned within the name of the product such as ‘Cheese and Onion Pasty’ or if it is normally connected with the name by the consumer such as strawberry’s in trifle.
  • Allergens must also be stated clearly on the labels and then listed within the ingredients. The full list of allergens is below:
    • celery
    • cereals containing gluten – including wheat, rye, barley and oats
    • crustaceans – including prawns, crab and lobster
    • eggs
    • fish
    • lupin
    • milk
    • molluscs – including squid, mussels, cockles, whelks and snails
    • mustard
    • nuts
    • peanuts
    • sesame seeds
    • soya beans
    • sulphur dioxide or sulphites at levels above 10mg per kilogram or per litre

Food and drink warnings

Below is a table from the GOV UK website stating what must be present on packaging of food and drink if any of these chemicals/ ingredients are within the product.

Ingredient Wording you must use
Allura red (E129) ‘May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’
Aspartame ‘Contains a source of phenylalanine’
Caffeine over 150 mg/l ‘Not suitable for children, pregnant women and persons sensitive to caffeine’
Carmoisine (E122) ‘May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’
Liquorice ‘Contains liquorice’ (you may need extra wording for confectionery or alcohol containing liquorice)
Polyols ‘Excessive consumption may cause a laxative effect’
Ponceau 4R (E124) ‘May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’
Quinoline yellow (E104) ‘May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’
Raw milk ‘This milk has not been heat-treated and may therefore contain organisms harmful to health’
Skimmed milk with non-milk fat There’s no fixed wording, but you must show a warning that the product is unfit or not to be used for babies.
Sulphur dioxide over 10mg/l ‘Contains sulphur dioxide (or sulphites/sulfites)’
Sunset yellow (E110) ‘May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’
Sweeteners ‘With sweetener(s)’
Sweeteners and sugar ‘With sugar and sweetener(s)’
Tartrazine (E102) ‘May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children’

Organic Food:

  • Retailers are able to label their products ‘Organic’ as long as 95% of the products are farm grown ingredients and that they are sold to their customers directly in shop.
  • If you produce or prepare organic food, and wish to sell or label it as organic then you must first be certified by one of the organic control bodies, you can decide which one to register with based upon your location and needs. However once registered you will have to follow a strict set of guidelines that have been laid down by national and international laws, keep thorough and accurate records of production processes as well as allow annual and random inspections.

 

Nutrition, health claims and supplement labelling

  • The European Union Rules for Nutrition Labelling must be followed if nutrition information is to be showed on pre-packed products. Nutrition labelling must be included if the product makes a nutrition or health claim and if vitamins or minerals have been added.
  • Certain rules must also be followed if nutrition claims or health claims are made such as low fat or that calcium helps to maintain normal bones.You cannot claim or imply that food can treat, prevent or cure any disease or medical condition.
  • Rules must also be followed if you are manufacturing,selling or importing a food supplement or a food fortified with vitamins and minerals. There are also specific rules for ‘parnuts’ food such as baby food. And if you desired to sell infant formula or medical food within the UK.

 

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