Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

The first Foodlaw-Reading page was published 20 May 1996

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Last updated: 7 June, 2021

Food Labelling

Providing access to the EU and UK legislation

See also: Food Labeling in the UK: A Guide to the Regulations

Updated January 2014


On this page:

Also on this site: UK Food Labelling: Historical Development of Legal Controls (1943-1996)


Agreed EU-wide controls on food labelling were introduced with Directive 79/112 in 1979. Additional controls were added and amendments introduced to produce a complex array of labelling requirements. In 2000, the original 1979 Directive and its amendments were consolidated into a single new Directive - Directive 2000/13/EC. Additional Directives relating to labelling continued to be adopted. This situation was complex - for details, see the Food Labelling Archive Page on this site.

In January 2008 the Commission published proposals for new controls under the new name: "provision of food information to consumers". After detailed consideration (see the Food Labelling Archive Page), Regulation 1169/2011 was adopted. This provides a consolidated structure to the legislation and includes, for the first time, the controls on nutrition labelling (previously covered Directive 90/496). Many elements have remained the same but there have been some additional and amended requirements. Implementation was mostly from 13 December 2014 although compulsory nutrition labelling was only applicable from 13 December 2016.

Note: Although Regulation 1169/2011 has consolidated many aspects of food labelling, requirements relating to other aspects can still be found in other EU legal documents and these are not currently listed here. In particular there are separate controls on nutrition and health claims and on foods containing genetically modified ingredients. For details see separate pages on this site:

Additional information can also be found on the European Commission's pages:

EU Legislation and Guidance

The labelling regulation (or more correctly now - 'food information' regulation) was adopted on 29 September 2011 and published in the Official Journal on 22 November 2011. It mostly applied from 13 December 2014 (see Article 55 of the Regulation) with the exception of the new mandatory nutrition labelling requirement which became effective from 13 December 2016. There were a few additional transitional provisions - see Article 54 for details.

Consolidated Document

For a consolidated version of the original regulation but incorporating the amendments to the text, see: Regulation 1169/2011 (published January 2018)

Implementing Measures

Regulation 1169/2011 provides the Commission with authority to issue implementing regulations (following specified procedures). The following have been issued:

Guidance Documents

The Commission has published the following guidance documents (copies are available on this site - click on image):

Questions and Answers on the application of the Regulation (EU) N° 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (revised version published June 2018)
Commission Notice on the application of the principle of quantitative ingredients declaration (QUID) (Published 21 November 2017)
Commission Notice  of 13 July 2017 relating to the provision of information on substances or products causing allergies or intolerances as listed in Annex II to Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the provision of food information to consumers (Published 13 December 2017)
Guidance document for competent authorities, tolerances for the control of compliance of nutrient values declared on a label with EU legislation (December 2012) See also: Summary Table (December 2012)
Guidance document for competent authorities, methods of analysis for the determination of the fibre content declared on a label for the control of compliance with EU legislation (December 2012)
Commission Notice on the application of the provisions of Article 26(3) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 (January 2020) [Concerns the provision of food information to consumers, as regards the rules for indicating the country of origin or place of provenance of the primary ingredient of a food]

Also available is other guidance (copies are available on this site - click on image):

Guidance on the Origin Indication of the Primary Ingredient - Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/775. First published March 2019 by FoodDrinkEurope (FDE) but updated May 2020.

Guidance on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011. Provided September 2013 by FoodDrinkEurope and EuroCommerce

Guidance - The provision of food information to consumers: edible insect-based products. Provided July 2019 by the IPIFF (the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed)

UK Legislation and Guidance

Brexit: Prior to the IP Completion Day (31 December 2020), the legal requirements given in the EU Regulations listed above still applied to the UK. Since IP Completion Day, the EU Regulations above have been incorporated into UK legislation but with amendments to correct deficiencies. Information on this is given below. For more details of the process of incorporating EU legislation into UK law, see the separate page: UK Food Law: EU Legislation as Amended for the UK. Provisions for the enforcement of the controls (originally the EU Regulations but now as amended) have been provided in the UK Regulations listed below. For Northern Ireland, EU rules still apply.

EU Legislation with links to as amended for application in the UK:


Providing implementation and enforcement of the labelling rules takes place separately for the four parts of the United Kingdom:

Guidance Documents

Guidance has been developed and the following are available:

Food Information Regulations 2014: Draft Guidance (version2) (Prepared by DEFRA, June 2014) [Note: Although published by DEFFRA as a draft, no final version appears to have been published. There is much more detailed information in the FSA document below and it is recommended that the FSA guidance is used in preference to this draft publication]
Food Information Regulations 2014: Summary guidance for food business operators and enforcement officers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (Prepared by the FSA and relates to the enforcement regulations for the EU Food Information Regulation 1169/2011, December 2014)

Technical Guidance on Nutrition Labelling (Prepared by Department of Health, June 2013).

See also supporting document: Summary of the EU FIC Provisions Governing Expression of Nutrition Information per 100g/ml and per Portion/Consumption Unit

BRC Guidance on Allergen Labelling and the Requirements in Regulation 1169/2011 (Prepared by BRC/FDF with support from the Food Standards Agency,March 2013)
BRC-FDF Guidance on “Free-From” Allergen Claims (November 2015)
FDF Guidance on ‘Allergen’-Free & Vegan Claims (February 2020)
Gluten Labelling Guidance: Best Practice for Prepacked Foods which Include or Exclude Cereals Containing Gluten (Published by the Food and Drink Federation, June 2019)

Food allergen labelling and information requirements: Technical Guidance (Prepared by the Food Standards Agency, June 2020)

[Provided under the Open Government Licence. The original publication accessed from: ]

Guidance on application of country of origin and place of provenance rules for fresh, chilled and frozen meat of swine, sheep, goats and poultry. (Prepared by the Food Standards Agency, 2017)

Guidance on comparative nutrition claims (published by the UK's Food and Drink Federation in January 2018)

Industry Guidance on Setting Product Shelf Life (November 2017)
Labelling Guidance: Best practice on food date labelling and storage advice (First published November 2017 but updated November 2019)

Nutrition Legislation Information Sheet. This document, published by the Department of Health and Social Care, is intended to help food businesses comply with nutrition legislation - some sections relate to labelling requirements. (Originally published in 2014, this is a pdf version of the updated DHSC web page from January 2021).

[Provided under the Open Government Licence. The original publication accessed from: ]

Front of Pack Nutrition Labelling This is permitted under EU Regulation 1169/2011 where member states, under certain criteria, are authorised to recommend 'additional forms of expression or presentation of the nutrition declaration' (see Article 35). The Department of Health (in association with the devolved administrations) has recommended a UK wide scheme:

Guide to Creating a Front of Pack (FoP) Nutrition Label for Pre-packed Products sold through Retail Outlets (Department of Health, updated November 2016)

[Provided under the Open Government Licence. The original publication accessed from: ]

This page was first provided on 30 October 2001

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