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Food labelling and packaging - Guidelines

Updated: Jul 10, 2023


Food Labelling Services

Labelling and Packaging: From allergen labeling to health claims and front of pack symbols, consumers rely on your label to illustrate all the information necessary so they can make safe and informed purchase decisions. To prevent misleading your customers, and to avoid costly recalls and damage to your reputation, it is critical that you comply. Myperfectpack team provide printed labels which are acceptable worldwode .


If you package food yourself, you must use packaging that’s suitable for food use. Suitable packaging is marked ‘for food contact’ or has a symbol on it that looks like a wine glass and a fork.

There are special rules for using plastics, ceramics or cellophane for packaging. You must have written evidence that you’ve kept to them.



This is known as a ‘declaration of compliance and you can get it from your packaging supplier. You also have to get one if you buy food that’s already packaged for sale in any of those materials.


Overview of Labelling and Packaging

To sell food and drink products, the label must be


Products sold loose or in catering businesses

If you run a catering business, you sell food loose or package it for sale in your shop, you only need to show:

  • the name of the food

  • if any of the ingredients have been irradiated, or have come from genetically modified sources

  • certain warnings

  • any food additive you have added

  • allergen information

You must show more information if you sell meat products loose.


If you package food yourself, you must use packaging that’s suitable for food use. Suitable packaging is marked ‘for food contact’ or has a symbol on it that looks like a wine glass and a fork.

There are special rules for using plastics, ceramics or cellophane for packaging. You must have written evidence that you’ve kept to them.

This is known as a ‘declaration of compliance’ and you can get it from your packaging supplier. You also have to get one if you buy food that’s already packaged for sale in any of those materials.



Food labeling - what you must show

You must show the following information:

  • the name of the food

  • a ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date

  • any necessary warnings

  • net quantity information

  • a list of ingredients (if there is more than 1)

  • the country or place of origin, if required

  • the lot number or use-by date

  • any special storage conditions

  • instructions for use or cooking, if necessary

If you’re selling food in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland), you must also include the name and address of the UK or EU business responsible for the information on the food. If the business is not in the UK or EU, you must include the name and address of the importer. If you’re selling food in Northern Ireland, you must include the name and address of the Northern Irish or EU business responsible for the information on the food. If the business is not in Northern Ireland or the EU, you must include the name and address of the importer.



Quantity information

You must put the net quantity in grams, kilograms, millilitres or litres on the label of:

  • packaged food over 5g or 5ml

  • packaged herbs and spices

Solid foods packed in a liquid (or an ice glaze) must show the drained net weight.

The net quantity must be close enough to the name of the food that you can see all this information at the same time. This also applies to the alcoholic strength for alcoholic drinks.


Food Labelling Stickers

You do not have to show the weight or volume on foods sold by number, for example 2 bread rolls, provided that you can clearly see the number of items inside the packaging.



Information you may have to show on label

You must also show these if they apply to your product:

  • a warning for drinks with an alcohol content above 1.2%

  • a warning if the product contains GM ingredients, unless their presence is accidental and 0.9% or less

  • a warning if the product has been irradiated

  • the words ‘packaged in a protective atmosphere’ if the food is packaged using a packaging gas



Country or place of origin

You must show the country or place of origin for:

  • beef, veal, lamb, mutton, pork, goat and poultry

  • fish and shellfish

  • honey

  • olive oil

  • wine

  • fruit and vegetables

You can label certain food from EU countries and Northern Ireland as ‘origin EU’. Food from and sold in Great Britain can be labelled as ‘origin EU’ until 31 December 2023

You must also show the country of origin if customers might be misled without this information, for example if the label for a pizza shows the leaning tower of Pisa but the pizza is made in the UK.

If the primary ingredient in the food comes from somewhere different from where the product says it was made, the label must show this. For example, a pork pie labelled ‘British’ that’s produced in the UK with pork from Denmark, must state ‘with pork from Denmark’ or ‘made with pork from outside the UK’.



Special rules for some products

There are special rules about what you have to show on the label if you supply any of the following:

  • bottled water

  • bread and flour

  • cocoa and chocolate products

  • fats and oils

  • fish

  • fruit juices and nectars

  • honey

  • jams and preserves

  • meat and meat products

  • milk and milk products

  • soluble coffee

  • sugar

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. Ingredient quantities You also 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

Allergens You must highlight allergens on the label using a different font, style or background colour. You must also list them in the ingredients. The allergens you need to highlight and list are:

  • 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



Nutrition, health claims and supplement labelling

Nutrition labelling You must follow nutrition labelling information rules for all pre-packed products unless both of the following apply:

  • you’re a small business with under 10 employees and a turnover of less than £1.4 million

  • you supply either direct to consumers or to local retailers - local means within your county, your neighbouring county, or up to 30 miles from your county boundary

Nutrition and health claims You have to follow certain rules if you want to make a nutrition claim (for example, low fat) or a health claim (for example, calcium helps maintain normal bones).

You cannot claim or imply that food can treat, prevent or cure any disease or medical condition. Food supplements, fortified foods and foods for specific nutritional uses You must follow certain rules if you are manufacturing, selling or importing:

  • a food supplement

  • a food fortified with vitamins and minerals

There are also specific rules for ‘parnuts foods’, for example:

  • formula milk for infants and young children

  • baby food

  • meal and total diet replacement for weight control medical foods

  • You must tell the Department for Health if you want to sell infant formula or medical food in the UK.



Organic food labels

If you’re a retailer, you can label products ‘organic’ as long as

  • at least 95% of the farm-grown ingredients are organic you sell directdirectly to customers in your shop organic certification You must be certified by one of the organic control bodies if you produce or prepare organic food and you want to sell or label it as organic. You can decide which body to register with based on your location and needs. Once registered you’ll have to:

  • follow a strict set of guidelines laid down by national and international law keep thorough and accurate records of production processes allow annual and random inspections you'll also have to follow the rules for labelling organic products.


Summary : Food Label Checking

In the UK & EU, all food businesses have a responsibility to ensure the labelling on their products is relevant, legally compliant and meets all food safety standards.

Our expert consultants can assess your food labels quickly to ensure they meet UK and EU legislation, which have undergone significant upheaval in the last few years, giving you peace of mind that your product will be compliant.


Bottle Label Sticker

Compliance reports include (list not exhaustive):


  • Ensuring all mandatory information is declared

  • Product name approval

  • Ingredient verification for appropriate market

  • Additive review for specific food categories

  • Novel Food identification

  • Allergen declaration check

  • Nutrition format verification

  • Quantity marking

  • Date coding

  • Storage instructions and instructions for use

  • Field of vision requirements

  • Country of origin declarations

  • Health & Nutrition Claims and other claims

  • Product warnings and other mandatory requirements

Non-Compliant Labelling

A product that is recalled due to an incorrect or non-compliant label will not only be expensive for your business, but often damaging to your brand.

Design you label with certified graphic designer by myperfectpack .

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