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This leaflet has been prepared for the guidance of traders by the Northern Counties Chief Trading Standards Officers Group. It is not an authoritative document on the law and is only intended for guidance. 



This leaflet applies to the labelling and marking of pre-packed food, i.e. which is ready for delivery to the ultimate consumer or to a catering establishment. It does not apply to food which is packed on the premises from which it is sold.



Pre-packed food must be labelled with the following information:

The name of the food being;



A trade mark, brand name or fancy name cannot be substituted for the name of the food.

If the food has been subjected to any process or treatment then the name of the food must include or be accompanied by an indication of such process or treatment if the omission of that information could mislead a purchaser.

A list of ingredients

Constituents of a compound ingredient are listed in one of two ways:


If a compound ingredient contains an additive which performs a specific function in the food, e.g. colour or preservative the presence of that additive will need to be shown even if the compound ingredient is less than 25%.

e.g. tomato ketchup (contains colour E102).

Constituents of a compound ingredient are listed in one of two ways;


The appropriate durability indication.

Most pre-packed food must be marked with an appropriate durability indication either a "best before" or "use by" date.

USE BY: Food which, from the microbiological point of view is highly perishable and in consequence likely after a short period to constitute an immediate danger to human health must be marked "use by". The use by date shall be expressed as either a day and a month or a day, month and a year. in addition this indication must have associated with it the appropriate storage conditions.

BEST BEFORE: Most other food should be marked "best before" followed by the date up to and including which the food can retain its specific properties and any storage conditions which need to be observed if the food is to retain its specific properties until that date.

The date must be expressed in terms of a day, month and year (in that order), except that where a food has a shelf life of:

Any Special Storage Conditions or Condition of Use.

Special storage conditions or conditions of use should be given if the consumer needs to observe certain practices once the packaging of the food has been opened;

e.g. Once opened keep refrigerated and consume with 3 days.

Shake well before use.

The Name or Business Name and Address or Registered Address of

Place of Origin or Provenance

If a purchaser could be misled as to the true origin or provenance of the food then such information must be given.


Instructions for Use.

Instructions for use should be marked if it would be difficult to make appropriate use of the food in the absence of such instructions.

"QUID" – Indication of Quantities of Certain Ingredients or Categories of Ingredients.

The quantity of an ingredient or category of ingredients used in the preparation of a food, shall be indicated where;

However, there are certain exemptions to (i.) to (iii.) above, for example where an ingredient is used in small quantities as a flavouring.

Normally the indication must be expressed as a percentage determined as at the time of the use of the ingredient or category of ingredients in the preparation of the food.

The percentage indication must appear either in or next to the name of the food, or in the list of ingredients.

This is only a brief resume of the "QUID" requirements. If you require further information on QUID declarations and/or the exemptions, please contact you local trading standards department.

Special Claims

Any claim made in relation to food must be justified (e.g. "Low Calorie", "Diet", Rich in Vitamins", "High Protein", "Low Cholesterol") the food must also comply with prescribed criteria for the composition and labelling. If you think these requirements may apply to your product, please seek further advice from your local trading standards department.

Nutrition Information

This is only required to be given if a nutrition claim is made e.g. "Low Fat", "High Fibre" etc. However if nutrition information is labelled voluntarily then it must comply with the Regulations.


It is possible for a product to contain nuts or nut products but this may not be obvious from the list of ingredients, due to them being present in a compound ingredient or in an ingredient for which a generic name is used e.g. vegetable oil. If this is the case it is recommended that the presence of nuts is made clear in the labelling, e.g. "Contains nut products". (This is not a legal requirement but it is recommended as good practice in the interests of the safety of consumers who may be allergic to nuts).

Foods Containing Sweeteners, Added Sugar and Sweeteners, Aspartame or Polyols.

A food containing a sweetener or sweeteners authorised by the Sweeteners in Food Regulations must be marked or labelled "with sweeteners".

A food containing both an added sugar(s) and a sweetener(s) must be marked or labelled "with sugar(s) and sweetener(s)".

A food containing aspartame must be marked or labelled "contains a source of phenylalamine".

A food containing more than 10% added polyols must be marked or labelled "excessive consumption may produce laxative effects".

Foods Packed in a Protective Atmosphere.

If a food’s shelf life has been extended by the use of a packaging gas then a declaration in the form "packaged in a protective atmosphere" must be given.

The Food (Lot Marking) Regulations 1996.

The purpose of these regulations is to identify the batch from which a particular food product originates. The lot mark must appear on the label or packaging. The form of the lot mark should be determined by yourselves but must be preceded by the letter "L" followed by figures and/or letters which indicate from which batch an individual package originates.

Note: if the "best before" or "use by" indication consist of at least the uncoded indication of the day and month in that order and can identify the batch from which the package originates, you are exempt from lot marking.



The required marking and labelling must be easy to understand in a conspicuous place, clearly legible, indelible and in no way hidden obscured or interrupted by anything else. Any pictorial representation of food on a label must accurately reflect the contents.



Where a food is required by the Weights and Measures Act 1985 to be marked or labelled with the net quantity, the indication must appear in the labelling of food in the same field of vision as the "name" of the food and the indication of minimum durability where appropriate.

There are minimum requirements for the size of characters used to mark the quantity. These are:

These minimum sizes do not however apply to catchweight goods, i.e. those pre-packed in random weights.

Only certain abbreviations are permitted. The common ones are:


October 2000

North Yorkshire County Council

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