Food labelling is an important means of providing essential information to consumers. This includes details on a food’s ingredients, composition, durability, storage and preparation requirements, any safety related information and identification of the manufacturer.

Detailed rules are laid down in law on what food information must be declared on product labels and how it must be given. There are also general rules on providing voluntary information (e.g. marketing claims).

A significant amount of food information is already required by law, and demand on label space is high, therefore should be kept to essential aspects. Additional information relevant to different consumer groups can be provided voluntarily, either on the label or more increasingly via other digital channels.

Updates & milestones

Health and Care Bill: Food Information for Consumers – Powers to Amend Retained EU Law

On 23 February 2022, DHSC updated its policy paper titled “Health and Care Bill: food information for consumers – powers to amend retained EU law”. This explains how the government plans to introduce new powers that enable the Secretary of State in England, and Ministers in Wales and Scotland, to amend retained Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 and introduce new food and drink labelling and presentation requirements, applicable to their relevant territories, whilst ensuring changes introduced via this power are debated and approved before implementation. [Health and Care Bill status]

This power will support ministers to deliver on the government’s ambitions to tackle obesity by introducing improvements to food labelling requirements, subject to the outcome of relevant consultations. It will also help ministers deliver on wider government objectives including options to deliver on the forthcoming food strategy White Paper, which sets out government ambitions and direction for food system transformation.

Defra guidance on food labelling: Giving food information to consumers

Update

This guidance informs business on the food information that must be provided on food products to comply with labelling legislation: Food Information Regulations 2014 (FIR) and the EU Food Information to Consumers (FIC) Regulation No 1169/2011.

Being a devolved responsibility, general food labelling policy lies with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) in England, Food Standards Agency (FSA) in Wales and Northern Ireland, and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) in Scotland.

View Defra guidance

Further information for members is also available via the FDF Food Labelling Toolkit

Related topics

nutrition and health claims

Nutrition and health claims

Scientifically substantiated nutrition and health claims enable consumers to make informed and meaningful food choices.

labelling

Nutrition labelling

The communication of a food’s nutritional properties supports consumers to make informed food purchasing decision.

Brexit

EU exit

The FDF produces a range of resources to help guide companies through the complexities arising as the UK leaves the EU. This includes our Brexit Roadmap resource. The FDF also runs various Brexit-related committees.

News

The Food and Drink Federation comments on the decision to allow ingredients to be substituted on labels due to shortages

UK manufacturers are working hard to ensure food remains on shelves amid intense global supply chain pressures. We welcome the decision that companies can alter their labels to reflect the current lack of availability of sunflower oil, but it is troubling that it has taken two weeks to reach this point.

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How we can help your business

Guidance: Gluten labelling guidance

05 June 2019

This UK best practice guidance aims to provide advice to food business operators, irrespective of size, on how to label food products that include cereals containing gluten through review of the relevant EU and UK legislation and guidance.

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Guidance: Pictorial representation

08 September 2016

This FDF guidance provides food businesses with advice on what to consider when declaring a pictorial representation of a food ingredient on the label of a pre-packed product.

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