What needs to be on a food label?
The labelling requirements are very complex, and vary from
product to product. There are certain basic requirements for all
food labels. They are as follows:
- A food name - this should be
the one that is required by law or a customary name. If neither of
these applies, the name must be sufficiently precise to inform a
purchaser of the food's true nature, and distinguish it from
products with which it could be confused. (Note: a brand name or
fancy name can still be used provided it is not substituted for the
- A list of ingredients, in
descending order, by weight.
- A % quantity indication for certain
ingredients or categories of ingredients.
- A 'use by', 'best
before' or 'best before end' date, or possibly a lot or
- Any special storage or use
- The name and address of the manufacturer,
packer or seller.
- Place of origin, if its omission could
- Any instructions that are necessary to use
Some products also have specific additional labelling
- Meat products may require a
% water content declaration.
- Jam requires a fruit and
sugar (soluble solids) content declaration.
- Chocolate requires a % cocoa
solids declaration and milk chocolate requires a % milk solids
- Beef is required to be
labelled with specific origin and traceability information.
- Baby food requires a
statement of the minimum age of child for which it is suitable and
a specific nutritional declaration.
- If a food makes any sort of slimming claim, or
that it has extra vitamins or minerals, or is low in some nutrient,
some additional information has to be given, including
nutritional information, which has to be stated in
a certain way.
- There are special rules concerning the labelling of food as
- There are guidelines to be followed when words such as
'natural' are used.
- There are guidelines to be considered concerning descriptions
of foods as suitable for vegetarians or vegans.
- There are additional requirements should an ingredient be given
- There are special considerations relating to the use of
Frequently asked questions about the labelling of food
Where can I find out more about food
View our food labels link for advice on labels issued by the
Food Standards Agency
What exactly are Allergenic Ingredients?
Follow this link to our link to guidance notes that answer the
most frequently asked questions
What is the difference between a Use By Date and a Best
Follow this link to guidance notes prepared for businesses to
help them understand their obligations