When it comes to food and drink packaging, it’s not as simple as just making the design look attractive. By law all pre-packed food is required to display certain information. With food allergies hitting the headlines recently, it’s vital that all this information is legible, accurate and not at all misleading. We give you the rundown on what you have to include…

1. Product name

2. Net quantity

  • The net quantity must be close enough to the name of the food so that you can see all this information at the same time. This also applies to the alcoholic strength for alcoholic drinks.
  • If you put the ℮ mark on the label this means you can export your product to another European Economic Area (EEA) country without having to meet weights and measures requirements of that country.

3. Ingredients

  • 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.

4. Allergens

You can find a list of the 14 substances or products which may cause food allergies or intolerances here. These must be emphasised in the ingredient list so that they clearly stand out from the other ingredients, such as in bold (like in this example), italics or a different colour.

5. Percentage of an Ingredient

You have to show the percentage of an ingredient if it is:

  • highlighted by the labelling or a picture on a package, for example ‘extra cheese’
  • mentioned in the name of the product, for example ‘cheese and onion pasty’
  • normally connected with the name by the consumer, for example fruit in a summer pudding

6. Best Before or Use By Date

  • This needs to be on the packaging or you should include instructions on where to find it. In this example it is placed on the film lid.
  • Mandatory information must be impossible to remove. So you can’t use ink that will run or rub off. This is especially important when you are writing use-by and best-before dates by hand.

7. Instructions for use or cooking, if necessary

8. Any special storage conditions

9. The name and address of the manufacturer, packer or seller

10. The country of origin, if required

You must show the country of origin for:

  • beef, veal, lamb, mutton, pork, goat and poultry
  • fish and shellfish
  • honey
  • olive oil
  • wine
  • fruit and vegetables imported from outside the EU

11. Nutritional Information

When providing nutrition information, you are required to declare:

  • energy value, amounts of fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt

It should be presented as a table with the numbers aligned or, if space does not permit, the declaration may appear in linear format. For further information about what to include click here.

Everything else included on the packaging is referred to as “voluntary information.” You can include as much of this in as you like however, you cannot do so at the expense of mandatory information. Furthermore, all the mandatory information must use a font with a minimum x-height of 1.2 millimetres. Although there is no law that you must have a barcode, most retailers and distributors will require you to have one for inventory and sales records purposes.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019, the rules for what you must show on food labels will change for some food and drink products. To find out more visit: www.foodstandards.gov.scot