The purpose of the new EU Food Information Regulation (adopted September 2011) is to make food labelling easier to understand for consumers, by simplifying and streamlining current legislation on general food and nutrition labelling into a single EU regulation. Areas covered include allergens, nano-ingredients and imitation foods as well as the presentation of nutrition information on-pack.
The Regulation repeals (amongst others) EC Directive 90/496/EEC on nutrition labelling for foodstuffs and EC Directive 2000/13/EC on food labelling. These are used as a starting point and as a result many of the principles remain familiar, but there are some significant changes, covering:
– Wider scope – geographic and responsibilities for food business operators
– Presentation of information on pack – tighter provision re ‘misleading’ product descriptions and on minimum font sizes for display of mandatory information
– Country of Origin – tighter place of origin rules and extension of scope to fresh and frozen meat. Potential extension to include meat and dairy products, unprocessed foods and ingredients
– Name of the food – changes to descriptions including reference to ‘formed’, ‘frozen’, ‘defrosted’ and indications of foreign proteins and caffeine content
– Allergens information – more prominence through use of typeface or colour in the ingredients list; extension of declaration to non-packaged foods*
– Date of durability – tighter link of ‘use by’ to food safety.
The bulk of the requirements will come into full effect in 2014 and nutrition labelling becomes mandatory in 2016.
In simple terms, the net result of this is that you are going to need to put more information on your labels. In many cases, pack sizes are going to prove prohibitive on a single layer label.
It’s the goal that labels will have the right balance of mandatory and voluntary information and offer clear and honest representations of the products inside the packaging.
Different fonts can have very different character heights at the same point sizes, to standardize text it is referred to by its ‘x-height’. E.g., the height of the lowercase letter ‘x’ and is used as a physical reference.
New regulation [EU -1169/2011] states that all mandatory information must be printed in a font size that reaches a minimum x-height of 1.2mm. But, can be reduced to 0.9mm if the largest packaging or container surface is 80cm2 or less.
If there’s space available on the label its always advisable to use a large font size.
Arial x-heights at different point sizes:
Below is mandatory information that needs to be presented using minimum x-height.
1. Name of food
2. List of ingredients
3. Any ingredient causing allergies or intolerances as listed by EU.
4. Quantity of certain ingredients or categories of ingredients
5. Net quantity of the food
6. Date of minimum durability or the ‘use by’ date
7. Special storage conditions or usage
8. Name and address of the business
9. Country of Origin
10. Instructions for use where it would be difficult to make use of food without.
11. Alcoholic strength if more than 1.2%
12. Nutrition declaration
Size of font
Quantity and unit of measurement Minimum height of words/figures
Exceeding 1 kg 6mm
Exceeding 200 g but not exceeding 1 kg 4mm
Exceeding 50 g but not exceeding 200 g 3mm
Not exceeding 50 g 2mm
Exceeding 1 L 6mm
Exceeding 20 cl but not exceeding 1 L 4mm
Exceeding 5 cl but not exceeding 20 cl 3mm
Not exceeding 5 cl 2mm
When showing weights or volumes on pack there’s a minimum text size. The minimum x-height for words and figures should increase in relation to its value quantities and size in a product.
It’s important that all mandatory and voluntary information is compiled before the label is designed, so that space can be split evenly, this ensures a good balance.
Once you’ve decided on font size it’s good practice to ensure legibility by maximizing contrast, formatting and print clarity. Arial is a good strong font that is recommended for labels. But it’s not great for numbers as 6, 8 and 9 can be easily misread. Highly decorative fonts are best avoided as they can create confusion.
When using colour on a label it is best to use a dark text on a light background. If you’re planning on using light text on to a dark background, then opt for a larger size font as it’s more effective. Avoid green and red together as it can be a confusing combination. As, can placing text on non-solid or busy backgrounds. It might seem obvious, but some brands still do it, avoid light text on light background or dark text with a dark background.
Try to avoid use of lots of different languages as it can get confusing. If it’s really necessary keep the number of languages to a minimum, too many languages and you’ll have to reduce the font type, which in turn with compromise clarity.
Keep messaging brief and be direct, too much information and the original message can easily get lost. For voluntary information, consider using a universally recognised pictogram. These usually offer additional information on cooking, opening or use of a product.
‘Peel Here’ Symbol Food Contact Symbol Oven Cook Symbol
Stick to these voluntary communication methods, along with the mandatory text legibility standards and the labels you produce will be consumer friendly and tick all the right regulatory boxes.
Labelservice can offer a range of products that will help you in conforming to the new regulations:
All of the above products are available to be printed flexographically for longer production runs, as well as digitally printed for shorter or multi sort work.
Contact us for more information, help with label design, cutter templates and free samples.
For further guidance on the regulations visit the FSA website at