2Learning objectivesTo recognise which information, by law, must appear on food products.To recognise the additional information which some food manufactures choose to place on food labels.To understand that foods sold loose are currently exempt from many of the food labelling laws.
3Information for the nation Pre-packaged foods have information on their labels which can help consumers choose between different foods, brands, or flavours.Much of the information must be provided by law.
4Information for consumers The following information must appear by law on food labels:• the name of the food;• weight or volume;• ingredient list;• allergen information;• genetically modified (GM) ingredients;• date mark and storage conditions;• preparation instructions;• name and address of manufacturer, packer or seller;• place of origin;• lot (or batch) mark;• nutrition information (from 2016 onwards).
5Additional information Additional information may also be provided, such as cooking instructions or serving suggestions.In the UK, foods sold loose are currently exempt from many of the food labelling laws.
6The name of the foodIt is important that the name of the food must be clearly stated and not be ambiguous or misleading.If the food has been processed in some way, the process must be included in the title if it would be misleading not to, e.g. dried apricots, salted peanuts, smoked bacon.
7The name of the foodThe name must also describe the differences between apparently similar products. For example, ‘fruit yogurt’ differentiates it from yogurt using artificial flavourings.Sometimes foods have made up names, e.g. ‘Bonzo’ which give no information about what is in them or how they have been processed. In such cases, a description of the food must be given.
8Weight or volumeThe weight or volume of the food must be shown on the label. By comparing the weight with the price of different brands, consumers can make sure that they are getting value for money.Some foods such as bread, tea and butter are only sold in standard amounts.For example, loaves of bread are sold as either 400g or 800g. The actual weight of the product must be within a few grams of the weight stated on the label. If products weigh less than 5g then the weight need not be stated.
9IngredientsIngredients are listed in order of weight, according to the amounts that were used to make the food, starting with the largest ingredient and ending with the smallest.Food additives and water must also be included in the list if they have been added.Sometimes a particular ingredient is highlighted in the name, e.g. ‘Prawn Curry: now with extra prawns’. If so, the minimum amount of the named ingredient must be included in the ingredients list, or next to the name of the food.
10Allergy informationWithin the European Union, any of the 14 foods listed on the following slide used in a pre-packed food, need to be mentioned on the food label.This enables consumers to understand more about the ingredients in pre-packed foods and are helpful for people with food allergies and intolerances who need to avoid certain foods.
11Allergy information The 14 foods are: • mustard; • celery; • cereals containing gluten (such as wheat, barley, rye and oats);• crustaceans (such as lobster and crab);• eggs;• fish;• lupins;• cow’s milk;• molluscs (such as mussels and oysters);• mustard;• nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts);• peanuts;• sesame seeds;• soybeans;• sulphur dioxide and sulphites (preservatives used in some foods and drinks) at levels above 10mg per kg or per litre.
12Genetically modified (GM) ingredients The presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or ingredients produced from GMOs must be indicated on the label. For GM products sold 'loose', information must be displayed immediately next to the food to indicate that it is GM. Small amounts of approved GM ingredients (below 0.9% for approved GM varieties) that are accidentally present in a food do not need to be labelled.Foods produced with GM technology (e.g. cheese produced with GM enzymes) and products such as meat, milk and eggs from animals fed on GM animal feed do not have to be labelled.
13Storage conditions and ‘Use by’ mark The label must say how long foods should be kept and how to store them. Following storage instructions can prevent food from spoiling too quickly, reduce the risk of food poisoning and help to make sure that it tastes and looks its best when it is eaten.Foods which spoil quickly (i.e. are highly perishable) such as cooked meat and fish have a ‘Use by’ date. If kept for too long these foods can cause food poisoning even though they may not taste odd.
14Freezing star rating system A simple star system is used to indicate what temperature the food should be held at and for how long:* - 6 º C 1 week (pre frozen food only);** - 12 º C 1 month (pre frozen food only);*** - 18 º C 3 months (pre frozen food only);**** - 18 º C or colder 6 months (pre frozen food; can also be used to freeze fresh food from room temperature).
15‘Best before’ dateOther foods have a ‘best before’ date, after which foods may not be at their best, with regard to flavour, colour and texture, even though they will probably be safe if they have been stored according to the instructions on the label.One exception to this is eggs, which carry a ‘best before’ date. However it can contain the dangerous bacteria, salmonella, so eggs should not be consumed after the ‘best before’ date. New government advice suggests that if the eggs are cooked thoroughly until both yolk and white are solid, they can be eaten a day or two after their ‘best before’ date. This is aimed to help cutting down on food waste.
16Name of address, packer or seller The name and address of the manufacturer, packer or seller must be stated on the label.Consumers can then contact the manufacturer if they have a complaint about a product or if they wish to know more about it.
17Preparation instructions Instructions on how to prepare and cook the food must be given on the label, if they are needed. If the food has to be heated, the temperature of the oven and the cooking time will usually be stated.Instructions may also be given for heating in a microwave oven. These instructions should make sure that the food tastes its best and that it will be thoroughly heated to a core temperature of 72ºC to help minimise the risk of food poisoning.
18Place of originThe label must show clearly where the food has come from if it would be misleading not to show it, for example, a tub of ‘Greek Yogurt’ which was made in France.The European Union has created three systems to promote and protect regional food products. These include the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), and the Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG).
19Regional food product protection Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) is used for food produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognised know-how, e.g. West Country farmhouse Cheddar cheese and Jersey Royal potatoes.
20Regional food product protection Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) the geographical link must occur in at least one of the stages of production, processing or preparation, e.g. Melton Mowbray Pork pie, Scottish farmed salmon and Welsh lamb.
21Regional food product protection Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) highlights traditional character, either in composition or means of production, e.g. traditional farm fresh turkey in the UK.
22Lot (or batch) markA lot mark is a code which is required by law to appear on the label. It helps to identify batches of food in the event that they need to be recalled by the manufacturer, packer or producer.A date mark is sometimes used as a lot mark. Lot marks may be indicated by the letter ‘L’.Pre-packed red meat and meat products, for example, must carry traceability information for identification of the product through the supply chain back to the farm.
23Other informationOther information which may appear on the label includes:• bar codes;• nutrition information (mandatory from 2016 onwards) and front of pack labelling schemes;• organic certification;food assurance schemes, e.g. Red Tractor;• vegetarian certification.
24Consumer information Food assurance schemes have been developed to compliment food legislation. They cover the food chainfrom farm to fork.An example is the Red Tractor food assurance schemeIt covers:cereals, oilseeds, pulses and sugar;fruit, vegetables and salad;milk;chicken;beef, lamb and pig meat.Multi-ingredient products must contain at least 65% Red Tractor certified ingredients to be labelled as Red Tractor products.
25Consumer informationThe Red Tractor logo can only be used to label ingredients from farmers, growers and food processors that have been inspected and certified to strict standards. Detailed technical standards that cover:food safety – makes sure your food is safe to eat;animal welfare – makes sure animals have everything they need for a good quality of life; environment – makes sure farmers protect the countryside by preventing pollution of watercourses, soil, air and wildlife habitat;traceability – every part of the food supply chain is inspected to ensure food carrying the logo is accounted for and can be traced back to UK farms.
26Bar codes Many food labels have a bar code and number on them. This is not required by law, but bar codes are a quick and easy way of identifying items especially at supermarket checkouts where the scanner can also identify other information such as the price.Bar codes are also used for stock control in shops and warehouses.
27Nutrition information At the moment, foods and drinks do not have to provide nutrition information on packaging (unless they make a nutrition or health claim about the product). Where information is given, some rules have to be followed.However, provision of information will become compulsory in the near future and, as described later, there will be some small changes to the format required.
28Nutrition information on the back of pack The current rules specify the nutrients that can be included. The information has to be presented per 100g/ml, but could also be provided per portion.Further information can be added to labels such as the amounts of polyunsaturates, monounsaturates, starch, cholesterol, vitamins or minerals.Format 2: ‘Big 4 and Little 4’Energy (kJ and kcal)Protein (g)Carbohydrate (g)of which sugars (g)Fat (g)of which saturates (g)Fibre (g)Sodium (g)Format 1: ‘Big 4’Energy (kJ and kcal)Protein (g)Carbohydrate (g)Fat (g)
29Front-of-pack nutrition labelling Most of the major supermarkets and many food manufacturers choose to display nutritional information on the front of pre-packaged food and drinks.There are two major schemes for front-of-pack labelling in place: traffic light labelling and Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) labels. Some packs may use a combination of the two.
30Traffic light labelling Traffic light labels on the front of pack provide information on high (red), medium (amber) or low (green) amounts of sugars, fat, saturated fat and salt present in the product, expressed per 100g/ml of the food/drink.This front-of-pack labelling scheme was developed by the Food Standards Agency to give an at-a-glance indication of whether a food is a healthier choice.
31Traffic light labelling Food Standards AgencySugarsFatSaturatesSaltWhat is highper 100gOver 15gOver 20gOver 5gOver 1.5gWhat is medium per 100gBetween5g and 15g3g and 20g1.5g and 5g0.3g and 1.5gWhat is low per 100g5g and below3g and below1.5g and below0.3g and below
32Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) GDA labels include the Guideline Daily Amount for certain nutrients and the percentage (%) GDA provided by 100g or 1 portion.This can be used to compare products and to choose the one which best suits the consumer, e.g. finding the one with the lowest salt content.
33Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA) GDAs are not targets for individuals to consume, but a guideline or benchmark to help people make dietary choices and balance their daily intake.Usually GDA values for adult women are used for food labels. This is because these values have been developed for the nutrients often consumed in excess, they represent benchmarks that should not be exceeded on a regular basis; however, people’s needs do vary. Therefore, the values for women are typically used as these are slightly lower than those for men.
34A combined approach to front-of-pack nutrition labelling Some packs may use a combination of both the traffic light labelling and GDA labels.(Department of Health 2011)
35New labelling regulations in Europe – the Food Information Regulation A new Regulation covering all aspects of food labelling, including the size of the letters on packaging, came into force at the end of 2011.It will make providing nutrition information on the back of packaged foods compulsory from 2016 (previously it was optional unless a nutrition or health claim was made). Front-of-pack labelling will remain optional.The format of nutrition labels will change slightly under the new rules and companies can start to use the new format straightaway, although the old rules (known as the Food Labelling Regulations) remain legal until 2014.
36New labelling regulations in Europe – the Food Information Regulation Current back of pack nutrition panel New back of pack nutrition panelNote that fibre can also be added to the panel but is not compulsory.
37Health claimsVery prescriptive regulations on nutrient claims are now in force across the European Union.General claims about benefits to overall good health, such as ‘healthy’ or ‘good for you’, will only be allowed to be used if accompanied by an appropriate and approved claim. This means that more general claims must be backed up by an explanation of why the food is ‘healthy’ or what makes it a ‘superfood’.Labels are not allowed to claim that food can treat, prevent or cure any disease of medical condition. These sorts of claims can only be made of licenced medicines.
38Nutrition claimsA nutrition claim describes what a food contains (or does not contain) or contains in reduced or increased amounts. Examples include:Low fat (less than 3g of fat per 100g food);High fibre (at least more than 6g of fibre per 100g food);Reduced sugar (30% less than the original product);Source of vitamin C (at least 15% of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C).
39Health claimsA health claim may be featured on the packaging if a food or one of its ingredients has been agreed by experts to provide additional health benefits.Examples of health claims include:Calcium is important for normal growth and development of bones in children.Beta-glucans from oats help to reduce blood cholesterol.Xylitol in some sugar-free chewing gum helps neutralise plaque acids.
40OrganicEvery organic food product needs to gain a certificate from one of the UK’s organic certification bodies. This certification can be found on a food label to identify it as genuinely organic.Foods may only be marked as ‘organic’ if at least 95% of their agricultural ingredients are organic. Organic ingredients in non-organic food may be listed as organic in the list of ingredients, as long as this food has been produced in accordance with the organic legislation.In order to ensure better transparency, the code number of the control body must be indicated.
41VegetarianThere is currently no single legal definition of the terms ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ either at the UK or European level.Products displaying the ‘Vegetarian Society Approved’ logo must fulfil certain requirements laid down by the Vegetarian Society.The ‘Suitable for Vegetarians’ logo is not regulated. It is known as a ‘voluntary claim’, which means that it is illegal for the labelling information to include anything that is false or likely to mislead.
42Review of the learning objectives To recognise which information, by law, must appear on food products.To recognise the additional information which some food manufactures choose to place on food labels.To understand that foods sold loose are currently exempt from many of the food labelling laws.
43For more information visit www.nutrition.org.uk www.foodafactoflife.org.uk