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Keeping Up to Date with Food Label Regulations

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For British and EU producers, the current food label regulations are described in the Food Information for Consumers Regulation (FIR) and for British companies, the details of the traffic light labelling system is explained in the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Regulations for food labels are updated on a regular basis and we, at Labelservice, ensure that we are always up to date on these regulations so that you, our client, are always in compliance. All food producers and manufacturers should also be up to date on these regulations.

Food labels must include the name of the food, a ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date (or instructions on where to find it), any necessary warnings, net quantity information, a list of ingredients (if there is more than 1), the name and address of the manufacturer, packer or seller, the country of origin, if required, the lot number or use-by date, any special storage conditions, and instructions for use or cooking, if necessary.

Nutrition labelling 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. There are some other exemptions for certain types of food.

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 can’t claim or imply that food can treat, prevent or cure any disease or medical condition.

Most prepacked food will need a nutrition declaration that summarises how much of the product is made up of certain nutrients. The nutritional declaration should be presented as a table. If there is not enough room on the label for a tabular format then the information can be presented as a list.

The following nutrients must be included: energy; fat; saturates; carbohydrate; sugars; protein; and salt. Traffic light food labels were first introduced in the UK with the aim of providing consumers with a clearer indication about the amount of salt, sugar or fat contained in the products they buy. They are red, amber or green based on the quantity of specific nutrients, allowing the consumer to quickly decide which product to choose. It is currently voluntary but momentum is gaining to make it a regulation.