Food businesses have a responsibility to ensure labels on food they manufacture comply with the regulations. Labels must display sufficient information to allow the consumer to make an informed choice when purchasing food.
Most foods must, by law, have the following information on their labels:
- Name of the food - the description must be accurate so that it does not mislead the consumer;
- List of ingredients - the list must be in descending order by weight. If an ingredient is mentioned in the name, then the amount contained in the food must be shown as a percentage;
- Indication of durability – either a 'use by' or 'best before' date;
- Any special storage conditions;
- Name and address of the manufacturer, packer or seller;
- Place of origin;
- Instructions for use;
- Allergens present – if a food contains any of the 14 Known Allergens (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) it must be highlighted on the label.
‘Use By’ and ‘Best Before’ Dates
There must be a ‘Use By’ or ‘Best Before’ date on a food label.
It is illegal to sell food beyond the 'Use By' date. This is because 'Use By' dates are only applied to certain high-risk or perishable foods.
It is not illegal to sell food beyond its 'Best Before' date. This is because the 'Best Before' dates are about the quality rather than the safety of a food.
If a complaint is made about a shop selling food that is past the 'Use By' date then one of our officers will visit the business and take appropriate action. See our Complaints section to find out more about making a complaint.
Labelling Guidance for Businesses
Labelling regulations apply to a wide range of businesses, not just manufacturers of pre-packed foods. For example, butchers must declare the meat content of their burgers, steak pies and sausages etc., bakers must declare the presence of certain colourings present in their cakes, and fishmongers must clearly state the catch area of fish on sale.
The Food Standards Agency’s Guidance Document on The Food Information Regulations 2014 (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) provides explanatory information to help food businesses understand and comply with established and forthcoming changes to labelling requirements.
Food allergens can be life threatening and the only way people can manage a Food Allergy (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) is to avoid the foods that make them ill.
The Food Information (Scotland) Regulations 2014 updated previous labelling regulations, and include a change in requirement for how Allergens (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) are declared not only on pre-packed foods, but also for foods sold unpackaged, or ‘loose’.
These changes mean premises such as restaurants, takeaways, bakeries, delicatessens etc. must also have information on any allergens present in their foods widely accessible to customers.
The Food Standards Agency has produced informative leaflets to help businesses who package food and for those who sell food loose:
Allergen Information for Labelling Pre-packed and Loose Food (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
There is also an Online Training Package (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) available through the Food Standards Agency which deals with the new requirements regarding the provision of allergen information under the new regulations.
There is also a wealth of information and resources on allergens on the Food Standards Agency (Allergens) (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) website.
From 13 December 2016, most pre-packed foods will require to be labelled with a nutrition declaration. Before this date, foods which are already labelled with a nutrition declaration must use the format set out in Regulation (EC) No 1169/2011, also known as The Food Information for Consumers Regulations.
The back of pack mandatory nutrition declaration includes the following:
- Energy value; and
- The amounts of fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt.
For further information on any of these topics please Contact Us.