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Food Labelling

What legislation regulates the labelling of food?
What are the compulsory labelling requirements for any pre-packed food product?
Must all ingredients of a food product be listed on the label?
Do I have to put nutrition information on my product label?
What is the legislation covering claims made on food labels? 

What legislation regulates the labelling of food?  

The general labelling of foodstuffs is controlled under Directive 2000/13/EC on the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs, as amended. This legislation is transposed into Irish law by European Communities (Labelling, Presentation and Advertising of Foodstuffs) Regulations 2002 (S.I. No. 483 of 2002)

 See further information on this legislation 

New Food Information Regulation 1169/2011/EU replaces the current labelling rules and will apply from 13th December 2014, with some exceptions. Food business operators should make themselves aware of the changes that will come about as a result of this new legislation. Read more on the new Food Information Legislation   

What are the compulsory labelling requirements for any pre-packed food product?  

The following mandatory information must appear on the packaging of a pre-packed food or on a label attached:

  • The name under which the product is sold*
  • The list of ingredients
  • The quantity of certain ingredients (QUID)
  • The net quantity*
  • The date of minimum durability*
  • Any special storage instructions or conditions of use
  • The name or business name and address of the manufacturer or packager, or a seller within the European Union
  • Place of origin of the foodstuff if its absence might mislead the consumer to a material degree
  • Instructions for use where necessary
  • Beverages with more than 1.2% alcohol must declare their actual alcoholic strength*
    *The name of the food, the date of minimum durability and the net quantity must appear on the food label in the same field of vision.

See further information on the date of minimum durability and shelf-life determination 

The legislation sets out a number of derogations to labelling the above compulsory requirements. These derogations are highlighted in our labelling report 'The Labelling of Food in Ireland 2007'.

Must all ingredients of a food product be listed on the label?  

Yes, with very few exceptions, all ingredients must be listed on the label, as required by Directive 2003/89/EC, which amends Directive 2000/13/EC on the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs.

Exceptions to these requirements are as follows:

  • where the composition of the compound ingredient is defined under Community legislation (e.g. jam, chocolate) and the compound ingredient constitutes less than 2% of the finished product. However, this does not apply to additives;
  • for compound ingredients consisting of mixtures of herbs and spices that constitute less than 2% of the finished product, with the exception of additives;
  • where the compound ingredient is a foodstuff for which a list of ingredients is not required under Community legislation.

However, any ingredient used in the production of a foodstuff and still present in the finished product, even if in altered form, and listed in Annex IIIa of the Directive (i.e. list of allergenic ingredients) must be indicated on the label with a clear reference to the name of the ingredient.

See further information on labelling of allergens 

Do I have to put nutrition information on my product label?  

No. Nutrition information is only required where a nutrition claim is made e.g. ‘low in fat’ ‘high in fibre’ etc. Directive 90/496/EC on nutrition labelling for foodstuffs details the format required for the presentation of nutrition information on a label.Nutrition information will either appear in Group 1 or Group 2 format depending on the nutrients for which the claim is made.

Group 1 format provides information on Energy (kj/kcal), protein, carbohydrate and fat. Group 2 format provides information on Energy kj/kcal), protein, fat, saturates, carbohydrates, sugars, fibre and sodium.

Additional information may be provided on the label for amounts of one or more of the following: starch, polyols, monounsaturates, poyunsaturates, cholesterol, vitamins and minerals (listed in the Annex to the Directive). However, where a nutritional claim is made about one of these nutrients, they must be declared in the nutrition information table.

All information must be given per 100g of product but can also, in addition, be given per serving.

In order for information on vitamins and minerals to be provided, they must be present in the product in significant amounts i.e. greater than 15% RDA per 100g or 100ml of product (as listed in Direcitve 90/496/EC), and an indication of the percentage RDA provided must be given.

Note: The presentation of nutrition information will change under the new Food Information for Consumers Regulation. Read more 

What is the legislation covering claims made on food labels?  

Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods marketed within the European Union, covers claims made on foods, food supplements, foods for particular nutritional uses (PARNUTS), natural mineral waters and water intended for human consumption.

This legislation sets out conditions for the use of nutrition and health claims. In addition, any food business operator wishing to use a health claim must apply for authorisation. Details of this authorisation process and further information on this Regulation can be found in our Nutrition and Health Claims section

Last reviewed: 29/5/2013

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