Guide

Food labelling and packaging in international trade

Help and support with food labelling and packaging

The government organisation with primary responsibility for developing policy and producing guidance on labelling and packaging is the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Find information on labelling and packaging.

You can also find information on classifying edible fruits, nuts and peel for import and export.

The FSA Food Alerts service gives information on problems associated with food, along with details of action to be taken. Food Alerts often cover the withdrawal of food products because of problems such as contamination, faulty packaging or incorrect labelling. 

If you have a trading query, you can contact the FSA at Email: helpline@food.gov.uk or Tel: 020 7276 8829.

Trade associations based in the UK can provide help and support to importers of specific food products.

Responsibility for enforcement is shared between central and local government bodies. Traders should be aware that failing to comply with labelling and packaging requirements is an offence. The FSA works through local authorities and port health authorities. In Northern Ireland, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has certain enforcement responsibilities.

Government organisations in third countries may be able to help you with importing, health certificates and other international trade issues:

  • in the US, food safety is overseen by the Food Safety and Inspection Service - the Food and Drug Administration focuses on consumer health issues relating to food
  • Food Standards Australia and New Zealand works as the food-safety equivalent agency of the UK's FSA in Australia and New Zealand<
  • the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is the food-safety equivalent agency of the FSA in Canada.