The proper food label isn’t just about the aesthetic appeal and the graphics as well as the material you use for your actual label – it’s also about the legal requirements, and there are plenty of those in the UK alone. If you are planning to design a food label for your product, you need to keep these legal guidelines in mind as well, and these include not just the name of the product but also other factors such as the expiration or ‘best before’ date, the net quantity, any health cautions or warnings, instructions for storage, and more. So what exactly should you know about all the legal requirements of designing a proper food label? Let’s find out more.
Inclusions under the law
Under UK law, your food product needs to have the following on its label:
- The food’s name (e.g., Kellogg’s)
- The ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date (otherwise, you can also use a lot number whenever applicable)
- The warning, if any. This can include something like ‘Contains peanuts’ or other ingredients which may be harmful to those with specific allergies
- The information on quantity. It must be the product’s net quantity, whether it’s in kilograms, grams, litres, or millilitres. Remember, though, that this is not a requirement for food items which are sold by number, such as muffins or bagels
- The net weight (drained). This is for solid food products which are packed in a liquid, such as tinned tuna
- The list of ingredients, particularly if there are more than two ingredients used for the product
- The name plus the address of the manufacturer, seller, or packer
- The instructions for storage (for example, ‘store the item in a cool and dark place’)
- The instructions for cooking or for use, such as ‘pan-fry or sauté in oil’)
Other prospective requirements
There are other requirements that you may also have to include in your food product label, as confirmed by the labelling machinery specialists Atwell Labellers. These include phrases such as ‘packaged or packed in a protective or safe atmosphere’ (if the food item is packed with the use of packaging gas, for instance, as in fizzy beverages). Another piece of information that you may have to include is a radiation warning if the production of the product has been exposed to radiation, and a barcode if you are planning to sell the product in a retail shop.
You may also have to include a warning, particularly if the food item contains more than 0.9% ingredients that have been genetically modified, and a country of origin if your product’s packaging implies that it is packed and made in another country (for instance, tropical fruit juice). If you are trying to promote a health claim, you should provide nutritional information, and the same applies if you have included minerals or vitamins in the product. Information on allergens should also be included whenever applicable.
Aside from all of this, it would be best if your label is as clear and concise and as easy to read as possible, and if it is permanent and easily seen. Avoid having a misleading label as well since this can give you potential problems with government bodies and the general public.