How to Make Sure Your Food Labels Stay FSA Approved
As most people (especially food producers) know, any food produced for sale in the UK must be labelled according to standards set out by the government, but not everyone knows the various reasons why food labels are so important. Any product label helps consumers make informed choices about an item and this is especially true for food; labels tell us how to store and use goods safely. Both of which help reduce waste and protect consumer health. As a food producer, it doesn’t matter whether you supply supermarkets or restaurants, the same requirements still apply, so this article is doubly useful for the food producers of the world!
It’s a mandatory for food productions companies to display nutritional information on the back of any pre-packaged food (https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/nutrition-labelling). As well as ensuring your legal responsibilities, the nutritional information can help consumers make better informed choices on which food to buy to help them lead healthier lifestyles. Especially as the number of food-related diseases is on the rise.
If your product contains any of the main fourteen allergens as an ingredient or processing aid, you must include it on the label. Also, allergenic ingredients need to be emphasised in a way that they can be easily identified in the ingredients list.
Even though consumers may be allergic, or have intolerance to other ingredients, only the fourteen allergens are required to be declared. These fourteen allergens are: celery, cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, eggs, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs, mustard, peanuts, sesame, soybeans, sulphur dioxide and sulphites and tree nuts. (https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/allergen-guidance-for-food-businesses)
People care and are invested in how their food is prepared. Whether it’s for cultural, religious or ethical reasons. By including information about the production methods of your products, you are helping customers make informed decisions about which products they
Some production details that you might include on whether your food is:
- Free range
- Halal would like to purchase and consume.
The Legal Requirements for Food Packaging
If you are a food producer, you are legally required to label all of your food products correctly. By failing to label your products correctly, you leave yourself liable to severe consequences. If the relevant authorities deem your product(s) non-compliant a number of steps will be taken as a consequence to make sure you are on the right path. Firstly, they will give you an improvement notice; this notice will inform you of what you are doing wrong, which rules you have been deemed to have broken, the actions you must take to comply and the time frame that this must be done by.
You are still allowed to continue production after you have received an improvement notice, but you must make sure that your business has taken the steps, within the timeline, outlined in the notice for your business to be compliant. If you choose to ignore or fail to adhere to the improvement notice within the time frame given, you will be committing an offence which may lead to you facing prosecution.
There are a number of different bits of information that must be included These labels should include the following:
- Name of the food – This must be a true representation of your product and can’t be false or misleading
- List of ingredients – You must list all the ingredients that are used to make your product and, you must use ingredients as the header.
- Percentage of certain ingredients – If you emphasise a certain ingredient within a product on the packaging of your product, then you must state the quantity of this particular ingredient’s percentage on the ingredients list.
- Instructions for use – Any instructions for use (e.g. cooking instructions) are needed. This can include cooking time, temperature, cooking equipment and any other instructions that are needed to prepare the food.
- Best before/Use by dates –Putting these instructions on the packaging of your products will help the customer store and use the food safely.
- Storage instructions – These instructions tell the customer how to store the product safely before and after opening the package; ensuring that the product can be kept safe to be consumed.
- Contact details –You must include the name of your business; all of your businesses contact details and the country where your business is based.
- Country of origin – You must never imply that your product comes from where it was manufactured if you have sourced it from a different country.
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