Food labels must have sufficient information on the label to allow the consumer to make an informed choice when purchasing food.
Most foods must by law have the following information on their labels:
There must be a 'Use By' or a 'Best Before' date on a food label.
It is illegal to sell food beyond the 'Use By' date. This is because 'Use By' dates are only applied to certain high-risk or perishable foods
It is not illegal to sell food beyond its 'best before' date. This is because the 'Best Before' dates are about the quality rather than the safety of a food.
If a complaint is made about a shop selling food that is past the 'Use By' date then an Environmental Health Officer will visit the business and take appropriate action.
There are particular requirements for food imported into the UK.
Labelling regulations apply to a wide range of businesses, not just manufacturers of pre-packed foods. For example, butchers must provide specific details about the origin of beef to their customers and declare the meat content of their burgers, steak pies and sausages etc. Bakers must declare the presence of certain colourings present in their cakes and fishmongers must clearly state the catch area of fish on sale.
Guidance on various aspects of labelling legislation can be found by clicking on the links below:
For further information about food labelling visit the Food Standards Agency website