Food consumption patterns have considerably changed over recent years and consumers are
progressively more and more aware of the issues related to foods.
Food labeling become as the vital tool for consumers to acquire information about what they
purchase and it is directly related to the decision on purchasing. Therefore, food labels
represent key elements in consumer choice.
Information regarding ingredients/composition of food item, nutritional information, use by
or best before date, instruction for use or cooking, storage instruction, price of product and
health claims are crucial in matching consumer needs and desires.
When analyzing the present situation in the food industry, food legislation and voluntary food
safety schemes are playing big role in defining the content of food labeling.
Labeling Requirements: Voluntary Food Safety Schemes
Voluntary food safety schemes such as ISO/FSSC 22000 and BRC also specify the
requirements on food labeling in dedicated clauses of the standards.
Labeling Requirements: Laws and Regulations
Legislation/laws may be implemented at national level, regional level or international level.
These laws have been implemented to prevent consumer deception, ensure food safety,
inform about possible health risk, etc.… Below are some examples for the regulatory
authorities in different countries.
Label serves as a tool for protecting consumers
Provide information important for protecting human health
Provide warning and information regarding safe way to use
Provide information on allergen
Label serves as a tool for communication
Help consumers to choose foods which have
the qualities they need
Food Labels may tell consumers;
Quality of the product
Benefits of the product
Possible risks from the product
Appropriate use of the product
United States (US):
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
are primarily responsible for the regulation of food labels. Food laws such as the Federal
Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and their amendments, Food Quality Protection
Act, Food Allergens labeling, and Consumer Protection Act impose different labeling
requirements for foods and beverages.
European Union (EU):
European Food Information to Consumers Regulation No 1169/2011 (FIC), new EU
regulation came into force on 13 December 2014. The new law combines the directives on
labelling, presentation and advertising of foods, and nutrition labelling for foods into one
Health Canada/Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) responsible for food labeling in
Food and Drugs Act 1985 establishes regulatory authority over food (last amended on
Canada's Regulatory System for Foods with Health Benefits - An Overview for Industry –
provides an overview of Canada's food regulatory system and important resources on
Australia and New Zealand:
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) sets food labelling standards in the Food
Standards Code (PART 1.2 Labelling and other information requirements)
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India is the responsible authority to regulate
The Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and labelling) ; 2011
Ministry of Health and Food advisory Committee are responsible for implementing the new
The Food Act No. 26 of 1980
Food (Labelling and Advertising) Regulations; 2005
Contents of Food Label
Name of the product should be mention in the label. False or misleading name should be
In addition to the name of the food product, brand name or trademark can be used in the
Package Size/Net Contents
It is required to mention the size of the package.
Name & Address of Manufacture, Packer or Marketer
Name, address and contact details of the manufacturer, packer or marketer should be
mentioned in the label for consumer information and traceability.
List of Ingredients
All the ingredients contain in particular food item should be declared under ingredient list. In
most cases it shall be declared in descending order of predominance. It means that the
ingredient weighs the most is listed first and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last.
In the EU, common food additives are identified by 3 or 4 digit code, known as an E number,
but in the US, additives must be referenced by their common names.
Direction for use and storage instruction
These information are essential to inform consumer regarding how to use or prepare the
product and how to store/store condition before pack opening and after pack opening.
What information available on food Label?
Package size/Net contents
Name & address of manufacture, packer or marketer
List of ingredients
Direction for use
Nutrition facts panel
Country of origin
Best before date
Health clams/ Nutrition Claim
The nutrition facts is a label required on most packaged food in many countries.
United States (US) Vs. European Union:
FDA announced the new Nutrition Facts label of packaged foods to reflect new
scientific information on 2016
In the EU, Nutritional labelling becomes mandatory for most pre-packaged foods as
from December 2016
In the US, nutritional labels must indicate the number of servings per container, but in
the EU, an indication of the number of servings is not required
Another key difference in the requirements is that the US lists sodium content in in
milligrams on nutrition labels, while the EU lists salt content in grams
The two systems are similar; the major difference is how they reveal calories:
In the US, calories is mentioned based on the serving size, on the other hand, in the
EU, all calorie listings are based in 100 g or 100 ml
Country of origin
This is a recent food label requirement and this information helps with consumer to know the
place of manufacture or packed. This requirement may be challenging for the food producers;
When ingredient mixed together with other origin
Origin of ingredient may differ from season to season
In most cases, Some food is exempt from country of origin labelling requirements, including
food sold for immediate consumption (e.g. restaurants, canteens) and food that is made and
packaged on the premises it is sold (e.g. bakery).
Australia and New Zealand: The Australian Government has introduced a new country
of origin food labelling system, which commenced on 1 July 2016 and mandatory on 1
July 2018. Country of origin labelling is voluntary in New Zealand.
European Union: Not a mandatory requirement
United States (US): Goods that are imported into the United States are required to have a
country of origin marking
Some foods and food ingredients or their components can cause several allergic reactions,
therefore these should be mentioned in the label.
United States (US):
According to the Food Allergens Labelling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004
(FALCPA), it is required that food which contain “major food allergen” should be
declared on the food label. They have identified eight foods or food groups as major food
allergen and these are milk, egg, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and
soybeans. Allergens other than the major food allergens are not subject to FALCPA
FALCPA's labeling requirements extend to foods packaged by a retail or foodservice
establishment that are offered for human consumption. However, FALCPA's labeling
requirements do not apply to foods provided by a retail food establishment. Under
FALCPA, raw agricultural commodities (generally fresh fruits and vegetables) are
Effective date: January 1, 2006
As per the Regulation No. 1169/2011, they have recognized 14 allergens listed in Annex
II (as amended by Commission Delegated Regulation No. 78/2014) as the most common
ingredients or processing aids causing food allergies and intolerances. The way of
declaring allergens such as emphasizing by font, style and colour is explained in the
Eggs, milk, fish, crustaceans (for example crab, lobster, crayfish, shrimp, prawn),
molluscs (for example mussels, oysters, squid), peanuts, tree nuts (namely almonds,
hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, brazils, pistachios, macadamia nuts or Queensland
nuts), sesame seeds, cereals containing gluten (namely wheat (such as spelt, Khorasan
wheat/Kamut), rye, barley, oats, or their hybridised strains). Soya, celery and celeriac,
mustard, lupin, sulphur dioxide and sulphites (at concentration of more than ten parts per
Australia and New Zealand:
FSANZ Food standard code section 1.2 explained the requirement of allergen declaration.
Peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, sesame seeds, fish and shellfish, soy and wheat as the
allergen caused ingredients and these must be declared on the food label, whenever they
are present in food as an ingredient.
Best before date
Expire date is mentioned in the package as;
Nutrition Claim & Health Claims
With the objective of providing guidelines for displaying health and nutrition claims in
food labels or their advertising, Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 has been established by
the European Union. This regulation serves as the legal framework for food business
Nutrition claim' means any claim which states, suggests or implies that a food has
particular beneficial nutritional properties. Nutrition claims are only permitted if they are
listed in the Annex of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, lastly amended by Regulation
(EU) No 1047/2012.
A health claim is any statement about a relationship between food and health. The
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is responsible for evaluating the scientific
evidence supporting health claims.
United States (US):
According to the FDA regulations, three types of claims can be made on the food and
dietary supplement; health claims, nutrient content claims, and structure/function claims.
These are governed by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA), Food and Drug
Administration Modernization Act (FDAMA) and Dietary Supplement Health and
Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA)
- Basura J. Jayasundara
Disclaimer: The content of this article does not reflect the official opinion of any of the organizations and is
made available for educational purposes only. The author will not be responsible for the use or misuse of the
information provided in the article.
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