Food (and drink) labels are required by law and are important for many reasons.
They help customers in making decisions about the food they buy, how it should be stored, and how to use it safely.
All this helps to reduce food waste and, without sounding too dramatic, could actually save lives (more about that below)!
Food labels are a great way of advertising your product as consumers rarely buy something without knowing what’s in it. Quality packaging and clarity of information on the product label help the consumer make an informed choice and feel they are buying a great product. The label is part of your brand and product marketing.
Here are some of the things you should think about displaying on your food labels.
The name of the food – Obvious! But it must be a true representation of your product and notbe misleading.
A list of ingredients. The heading must be ‘Ingredients,’ and the ingredients needed to make the product must be listed in decreasing order of weight (the highest quantity is first).
The percentage of certain ingredients. If you claim a certain ingredient on the packaging of your product (for example: “Beef Burgers”) you must state the quantity of this ingredient as a percentage in the ingredient list. For example: beef (75%). This is also a requirement if you highlight the ingredient with a picture or graphic, such as a cartoon strawberry on the jar label for jam.
Any instructions, such as cooking instructions. This covers the cooking equipment, temperature, cooking time, and any other instructions required to prepare the food.
‘Use by’ or ‘best before’ dates. By putting these dates on your labels, you will help consumers to safely use your food product.
Storage instructions. These guidelines help your customers in carefully store items before and after opening, making sure they are safe to eat. For example: ‘Store in a cool, dry place. Once opened, refrigerate and consume within 3 days.’
Contact details. Include the country of your business, the name of your business and a contact address.
Country of origin or provenance. You must not imply your product originates from where is was manufactured if you sourced it from somewhere else. For example, if the tuna used in your product was fished in Canada, shipped to the UK and produced into a pre-packaged meal, you cannot say it is British tuna.
Nutrition and Dietary Advice
Since 2016, all pre-packaged goods have been required by law to provide nutritional information.
Customers have grown more interested in nutritional value, especially as awareness of food-related illnesses and health issues grow. Customers are making healthier choices.
What is Natasha’s Law?
Following the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, a girl who died as a result of an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manager baguette containing sesame seeds, the UK government announced that tighter rules were needed to safeguard people with allergies.
This came into effect in October 2021.
Any business producing food directly for sale is required to label it with the name of the food and a full ingredients list, with allergenic ingredients emphasised within the list. Find the PPDS toolkit at food.gov.uk