Labelling Legislation

Labelling Legislation

Depending on what sector your product is in, there may be legal requirements for what you must include on your packaging or product label. This information can include extremely important details such as allergens information, health and safety and information that is there to protect others. 

Before you begin printing your product labels, it's vital that you have the correct information and requirements so that your products and your company do not get into legal trouble, or put others at risk. 

To help you get all the information you need, we’ve put together a guide on different labelling requirements and legislations for food labelling, cosmetics and electricals. 

General Product Packaging Requirements

What information you must include on your product packaging varies from product to product but whatever information you do provide it must be accurate and not misleading.

In particular, the government requires you to be truthful and accurate on your product packaging about:

  • The size and quantity of your product
  • The price of your product
  • What your product is made of
  • How, where and when it was made
  • What you say your product does 
  • Which people or organisations endorse or approve your product
  • Any safety information for your product, especially if it can be dangerous

Cosmetic Labelling Requirements

The cosmetic industry is at an all-time high saturation, with more products than ever before across most industrialised nations. This saturated market includes products we use every day like soap, shampoo, makeup, sun-cream or deodorants, but how do we know they are safe for both us, and even the environment? Many measures are in place to protect and inform the consumer, product labelling is one, as a manufacturer, you can’t ignore.

When using body care products on your skin or hair, some of it will get absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. Therefore, we need to be aware of what products we are using and their ingredients or potential effects. All products are subject to some form of legislation and the cosmetics and personal care industry is more stringently policed than most. If you get this one wrong you could be liable to prosecution or pulling products off the shelves - both costly.

Requirements on the Primary Packaging

On the primary packaging for cosmetics you will need to include:

  • Contact details of responsible person or organisation
  • Ingredient listings
  • Batch code or number
  • Shelf life
  • Some means of identifying the function
  • The average net weight or number of the product(s)
  • Best before date
  • Any applicable warnings or precautions

A note on BREXIT, since all this legislation is designed to standardise the global labelling systems, the UK government is highly unlikely to make products made in the United Kingdom potentially disadvantaged for export so expect no change to this guide in the near to medium term.

For information on what to include in each section, visit our cosmetics packaging design and labelling requirements guide.

Food and beverage labelling requirements

When food product labelling, there is certain information that is required to be shown, as well as a list of ingredients. Depending on what ingredients your product contains, you may also have to display food and allergens warnings. When looking at the design of your food label, according to government guidelines, you must ensure that the label is clear and easy to read, easy to understand and visible, permanent and not misleading. We’ve put together a list of the general food labelling requirements, based on the FSA labelling requirements. 

Name of food

The name of the food must be clearly presented and understood. This can include a name that is understood by consumers across the UK if it has been built over time. If there is no name prescribed in law to describe the food, a descriptive name for the food should be used.

List of ingredients

If your food contains 2 or more ingredients, you must list them all. All ingredients must be listed with a suitable heading (‘Ingredients’), with the appropriate food name, listed in weight order, and include the percentage of each ingredient. 

If it is a singular ingredient such as fresh fruit and vegetables, or water, it is not necessary to list it under ‘ingredients’. 

Allergen information

If your product contains any of the 14 listed allergens,  it is a food packaging requirement by law to list them in a different colour and be emphasised either by being in bold, or a different font style. 

The 14 allergens are: 

  • celery
  • cereals containing gluten - including wheat, rye, barley and oats
  • crustaceans - including prawns, crab and lobster
  • eggs
  • fish
  • lupin
  • milk
  • molluscs - including squid, mussels, cockles, whelks and snails
  • mustard
  • Nuts (tree nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews etc)
  • peanuts
  • sesame seeds
  • soya beans
  • sulphur dioxide or sulphites at levels above 10mg per kilogram or per litre

QUID 

The quantity declaration of ingredients (QUID), tells a consumer the percentage of particular ingredients contained in a food product. You are required to show the QUID when:

  • The ingredient or category of ingredients appears in the name of the food (‘blueberry’ and ‘yoghurt’ in a blue yoghurt) or if the food is usually associated with that name (‘Lamb mince’ in a shepherds pie)
  • If it is emphasised by words or pictures on the label (has a picture of strawberries on the packaging)
  • If the ingredient distinguishes a product or food from others with a similar name or appearance (such as pork meatballs as opposed to beef)

Net quantity of ingredients

Another food labelling requirement is to list the net quantity if the food packaged is above 5g or 5ml to comply. If it is a solid food packed in a liquid or an ice glaze, you must show the net weight of it drained. The weight requirement of 5g or 5ml does not apply to herbs and spices, you should still list the net quantity. The net quantity declaration does also not apply to products where you can clearly see how many there are or that can easily be counted e.g. 4 iced buns.

‘Best before’ or ‘use by’ date

All foods must clearly display the best before or use by date so a consumer can understand how long food can be kept for and when is it safe to use them by. Where a use by date is not relevant, you must include the lot number of the product such as with fruit and veg.

Storage instructions

If there are any necessary storage instructions or instructions regarding using the food appropriately for example ‘keep refrigerated and use within 24 hours of opening’ or ‘keep in a dark cool place’. 

The country or place of origin

The country of origin or a place of provenance of food is a mandatory food labelling requirement. There are strict laws and regulations regarding this area so it is worth doing further research to find out exactly what you need to list and where. As a guide, it is essential to list the country of origin of: 

  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Olive oil
  • Wine
  • Honey

You should also include this information where the name might be misleading such as ‘French bread’ but it was made in the UK. If it was a product that was named as made as Britain but contained ingredients from abroad such as a sausage roll, containing pork from Germany, you must list it to say ‘containing port from Germany’.

Name and address of the manufacturer

The product should list the name and address of either the name of the business whose name the food is marketed under or the address of the business that has imported the product.

Nutritional Information

Pre-packed food labelling requirements also include listing the nutritional information of the product, if a nutritional statement has been claimed such as ‘good source of calcium, or where vitamins or minerals have been added. You should also list the values in energy for six nutrients (in both kJ/kcal for energy per 100ml/g. 

Additional ingredients information

There are certain ingredients that you are required to list should your product contain:

  • aspartame and colourings
  • Liquorice
  • sweeteners or sugars
  • polyols
  • caffeine
  • Cooking or preparation ingredients

If your food product requires and cooking or preparation before consumption, these should also be included. 

Electrical labelling requirements 

Electrical devices, tools, toys and general electric items all require to have a number of compliances and legislations so that people know they are compliant with EU and UK standards and that they are safe to use. Not all of these need to be on the label specifically, they could also be found on the product or product packaging.

It is worth researching the relevant sector and product on the government website and EU guidelines to ensure you include the correct information for you and your product. Here are some standard labelling signs and symbols often found on electrical packaging labels.

Energy labelling requirements

Energy labels indicate how energy efficient an electrical appliance ranks from A (green), the most energy efficient to G (red) the least energy efficient. You can generate an EU Energy Label for your product online for free. The EU Energy Labelling Framework Regulations apply to a number of different types of electronics including:

  • Kitchen appliances
  • Washing machines and dryers
  • Lighting products
  • TVs and displays
  • Computers
  • Servers
  • Air conditioners and fans

The CE mark

You’ll probably be familiar with the CE mark, the CE mark indicates that the product is compliant with all applicable ‘CE directives’. This can include:

  • That the manufacturer has checked that these products meet EU safety regulations, health or environmental requirements
  • That there can be free movement of the products within the European mark

Products that fall under requiring the CE mark include:

  • Smartphones
  • Toys
  • Sunglasses
  • Helmets
  • Medical Devices
  • Tablets
  • Machinery

The WEEE Symbol 

The WEEE symbol indicates that a product should not be discarded with normal waste, it cannot be unsorted waste. This means that it must go to separate waste facilities or sorting. This symbol is mandatory for a lot of electronic products and devices imported and sold within the EU. Product examples include:

  • Printers
  • Laptops/computers
  • Cameras
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Electronic toys
  • LEDs

More Helpful Packaging Label Symbols

Name Symbol Result
Mobius Loop Mobius Loop. Simply indicates that the packaging is capable of being recycled.
Green Dot Green Dot. Not required in the UK. Denotes that the company has made a payment to offset disposal costs. Needed in many EU countries if you're exporting.
Keep Britain Tidy A reminder to the consumer to dispose of the packaging responsibly.
Additional information

Denotes further information about the product

Flammable

Lets the consumer know that the product is flammable

Cruelty free

Shows that the product has not been tested on animals

Once you’ve found out the correct packaging information, add them to your label design and check out our range of products, to find the perfect label shape, size and material. Simply upload your design and send them to print!