FOOD LABELLING AND NUTRITION
Food packaging and labelling is an entire legal entity and in the UK and Europe there are strict regulations manufacturers and businesses must comply with. For in depth information about food labelling and legislations visit the Food Standards Agency website.
This blog will aim to help you understand specifically the ingredient and nutrition information provided on food labels.
There are 12 pieces of mandatory information that must be displayed on food labels, three of which relate to nutrition; 1. The List of ingredients, 2. The quantity of certain ingredients and 3. Nutrition Information
1. The List of Ingredients
The list of ingredients in a product must have the heading “ingredients”. The ingredients must also be listed in descending order based on weight at the time of preparation. Allergens must be clearly highlighted in bold to ensure they stand out to the consumer.
2. The Quantity of Certain Ingredients
You may have noticed that some ingredients are accompanied by a percentage. If an ingredient is emphasised on the packaging for example “strawberry yoghurt” the percentage of strawberry must be declared in the ingredient list. This is known as the Quantitative Ingredient Declaration (QUID).
3.The Nutrition Information
The Back of the Packaging;
This can be an area of confusion for some consumers. The packaging only has to contain the nutritional information per 100g or 100ml. If a product weighs less or more than 100g/100ml it is up to the consumer to calculate the total nutritional value.
The nutritional information can be presented in tabular (table) or linear (listed) format and must contain the following information; Energy (the amount of kJ or calories), Fat, Fat of which saturates, Carbohydrates, Carbohydrates of which sugars, Protein and Salt.
The Front of the Packaging;
Front of pack Labelling (FoP) is not required by law. However, if a company decides to display FoP the information must contain the energy on its own or energy and all of the following; fats, saturates, sugars and salt.
Traffic Light or colour coding on the front of packaging is also common but is not mandatory by law. Unsurprisingly the three colours used are green, amber and red.
The levels of four nutrients (fats, fat saturates, sugar and salt) have been classified as low (green), medium (amber) and high (red) relative to how much of each nutrient is present per 100g/100ml.
Criteria per 100g/100ml
Many food products will have a mixture of green, amber and red. If you’re deciding between similar products, choose the one with less red and more green per 100g/100ml.
Food labelling can be confusing so why not take a screenshot of the table above and use it in your food shop to help you choose minimal amounts of fat, sugar and salt products!