Regulations are in place to help to make food labels clearer and also improve nutritional and allergen information to consumers. Regulations apply to all food intended for the final consumer, including foods delivered by mass caterers, and food intended for supply to mass caterers.
The occasional handling, preparation, storage and serving of food by private persons at events, such as church, school or village fairs, are not covered by the regulations (unless the activity is being carried out in the course of the person's business as a food business operator).
Food labelling regulations include:
mandatory nutrition labelling on pre-packaged food
country of origin labelling
date marking (including date of first freezing)
clarity and legibility of food information
labelling of non pre-packed foods
allergen information, including on food sold loose and in restaurants and cafes.
Improvement notices can be issued by environmental health officers for failure to comply with some sections of the regulations. Failure to comply with the improvement notice will be considered a criminal offence.
How to comply
You need to know what food allergies are and what allergen information food businesses must provide to customers.
If your business is importing pre-packed food, you must ensure that the label on the product complies with the labelling regulations. The composition of the product must match the label.
The exporter in the country of origin should provide documents from the countries competent body; for example, an export health certificate.
Where products are imported from micro-industries and not accompanied by an export health certificate, you may need to have a sample of the product analysed to establish its composition, verify that the product is safe to eat and is correctly labelled before it is placed on the market.