How they measure up: A simple guide to food labelling

Date: 2004.


Labels may appear to be very different in shape and size, colour and design and in what they tell us about the food or drink inside. But there are some things that are common to labels. They are:

  1. Name of the food
  2. List of ingredients
  3. The quantity of certain ingredients
  4. The net quantity
  5. Use by or best before dates
  6. Place of origin
  7. Special storage instructions
  8. Instructions for use
  9. Name and address of the manufacturer,packer or seller in EU
  10. Alcoholic strength of beverages with more than 1.2% alcohol

What does it claim?

Although health claims must not be misleading, there are currently no legally agreed definitions. So it’s best to treat all these sorts of claims with care. Some nutrition claims are covered by legislation or guidelines. A few of these are explained below. You can also check some of these by looking at the nutrition information panel.traffic light style gauge to food labels

  • Low fat: Less than 3g fat in 100g
  • Reduced fat/light: 25% less fat than the standard product
  • Low sugar: Less than 5g of sugar per 100g
  • No added sugar: No sugars have been added but the product may have natural sugars present
  • High fibre: Contains at least 6g

Three key objectives of the label

  • To provide information about the product
  • To distinguish the food/drink from others on the shelf
  • Giving information to decide whether the food/drink is safe to eat

For more information or to order a copy of this booklet email or call the safefood helpline:

NI 0800 0851 683
ROI 1850 404 567