Food labelling and packaging

Last updated: 21 February 2018

Food labelling - what you must show

You must show the following information on the front of packaged food:

  • the name of the food
  • a 'best before' or 'use by' date (or instructions on where to find it)
  • any necessary warnings
  • quantity information

You must also show the following information - it can be on the front, side or back of the packaging:

  • a list of ingredients (if there are more than 2)
  • the name and address of the manufacturer, packer or seller
  • the lot number (or use-by date if you wish)
  • any special storage conditions
  • instructions for use or cooking, if necessary

Quantity information

You must put the net quantity in grams, kilograms, millilitres or litres on the label of:

  • packaged food over 5g or 5ml
  • packaged herbs and spices

Solid foods packed in a liquid must show the drained net weight.

You must be able to see the quantity information when you read the name of the food on the label and, for alcohol, the alcoholic strength.

You don't have to show the weight or volume on foods sold by number, eg 2 bread rolls, provided that you can clearly see the number of items inside the packaging.

Read more guidance on quantity labelling.

E mark

If you put the ℮ mark on the label you can export your product to another European Economic Area (EEA) country without having to meet weights and measures requirements of that country.

Information you may have to show

You must also show these if they apply to your product:

  • a warning for drinks with an alcohol content above 1.2%
  • a warning if the product contains GM ingredients, unless their presence is accidental and 0.9% or less
  • a warning if the product has been radiated
  • the words 'packaged in a protective atmosphere' if the food is packaged using a packaging gas

Country of origin

The label for beef, veal, fish and shellfish, honey, olive oil, wine, most fruit and vegetables and poultry imported from outside the EU must show the country of origin.

Download 'Country of Origin labelling guidance' (PDF, 180KB)

You must also show the country of origin if customers might be misled without this information, eg if the label for a pizza shows the leaning tower of Pisa but the pizza is made in the UK.

Special rules for some products

There are special rules about what you have to show on the label if you supply any of the following:

  • bottled water
  • bread and flour
  • cocoa and chocolate products
  • fats and oils
  • fish
  • fruit juices and nectars
  • honey
  • jams and preserves
  • meat and meat products
  • milk and milk products
  • soluble coffee
  • sugar
Food labelling and packaging
Food labelling - what you must show