The European Food Information Council has released its annual report on the state of the food industry and its use of food labelling. The Global Update on Nutrition Labelling report states that an increasing number of countries are adopting mandatory food label laws, but that more can still be done to improve the situation. The report goes on to say that it is currently unclear exactly which system will work most effectively.
Food labelling, including labels on the front and rear of food products, is important, not only because people have a right to know exactly what they are eating but because of the increasing number of people that are overweight or obese. From a business perspective, complying with mandatory laws is obviously important, because failing to do so can land you with substantial fines and other penalties. By providing honest and reliable information, you can also better endear yourself to your buyers. They will continue to buy your products if they can trust the information you provide them with.
In the UK, more than a quarter of the population (26%), were considered obese in 2016 and there were 617,000 hospital admissions where obesity was considered a factor. Because of this growing problem, the government has continued to increase and tighten rules and regulations on food content and food labelling laws. In the UK, we not only have to abide by national laws, but are still currently under the remit of the EU’s authorities, so there are EU laws that must also be followed.
The UK government has introduced levies on soft drinks and other items that include large levels of sugar. They are also introducing schemes to try and increase the amount of exercise that children, and adults, undertake on a regular basis.
However, individuals and companies also need to be help with these and other initiatives. As a food manufacturer, you are encouraged to ensure that the food and drink you supply is healthy, and are encouraged to provide accurate and reliable nutritional information.
Mandatory And Voluntary Schemes
In particular, the report highlights the following countries and jurisdictions as having adopted a mandatory scheme, having previously only employed a voluntary one – the EU, China, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia.
According to the report, mandatory schemes require that nutrition details be included on packaging, even where no nutritional and health claim is made.
Voluntary schemes define the nutritional information that should be included on packaging, but they do not necessitate that the information be made available except where a health claim is made.
The report does highlight the need for harmonised regulations. For example, a number of EU member states have their own, additional laws and guidelines, including the UK’s traffic light system, and a number of other countries are introducing, or planning to introduce, similar schemes.
The report highlights the FLABEL research project, which was funded by the EU. The report found that 85% of food products had labelling on the back of products, while only 48% carried nutritional information on the front of packaging. 84% showed information in a linear style and only 1% displayed health logos, which are widely acknowledged as a means of providing important information in a manner that is simple and quick to understand.
The UK Law
Food labelling practices in the UK come under The Provision of Food Information for Consumer Regulations Act, which came into effect in December 2011.
- Food labels must include details of allergens that are found in the ingredients, and if there is any risk of cross contamination with other allergens used in the manufacturing of products in the same factory.
- Most food packaging must also incorporate nutritional details, including levels of calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, protein, and salt.
- Caffeine levels must be included for food and drink that are considered to have a high caffeine content.
- Other information that must be added includes contact details of the supplier or manufacturer, and you must back up any specific health or nutritional claims that are made on the packaging.
Although the UK is set to leave the EU next year, it is highly likely that the government will adopt the same principles and the same guidelines, although they have mooted the idea of including details of whether an animal was stunned or not prior to its slaughter, along with other potential changes.
It is also a legal requirement that the labels, and the required information, are easy to understand and legible. If a label fades over time, you could still face legal action, and while there was once a £5,000 cap on the fine, this was lifted following the horse meat scandal.
Buy Food Label Printers From Label Line UK
Ensuring that you meet food label laws is important. There are some exceptions to the rules above, for example if you only employ a small number of people, but, generally, you need to abide by all the requirements or you could face substantial penalties. It is possible to have a company print food labels for you, but if you want total control over the labels that you print, you can buy affordable and efficient food label printers and printing system.
We can tailor our products so that they integrate with your existing packaging and labelling system. We have 40 years of technical expertise in food label printers and associated products. Call us and speak to one of the team or browse the product catalogues on our site to see the printers and other products we have to offer.