Labelling food products

Labelling law for specific food products

Guide

As well as general legal requirements for food labels, there are numerous other pieces of legislation that you may need to consider when developing and labelling your food products.

Some food products are have specific labelling legislation including:

  • organic food
  • genetically modified (GM) food
  • bread and flour
  • honey
  • fruit juices and nectars
  • jams and preserves
  • meat products - eg pies and sausages
  • quick frozen food
  • medical foods
  • infant formula and follow-on formula
  • baby foods

Organic food

You can only label food products can as 'organic' if they meet certain requirements. Labels on food sold as organic must indicate the certification body that the processor or packer is registered with.

The EU law that continues to apply to Northern Ireland after 1 January 2021 is specified in Annex II to the Northern Ireland Protocol. Food and feed products produced in NI or placed on the NI market need to comply with EU food law, including the law on organic food. See the latest EU Exit guidance for the food and drink sector and read about trading and labelling organic food from 1 January 2021.

The use of the organic production logo of the EU is mandatory for all prepacked organic products produced in any EU Member States.

GM foods

There are special rules for labelling genetically modified food products.

Changes to rules and processes apply from 1 January 2021 for those businesses trading in genetically modified (GM) food or feed. Read about exporting GM food and animal feed from 1 January 2021.

Bread and flour

The Bread and Flour Regulations lay down labelling and compositional standards for the products they apply to.

Honey

The Honey Regulations determine when you can label a product as 'honey'. They lay down additional labelling requirements for honey products.

Fruit juices and nectars

The Fruit Juices and Fruit Nectars Regulations include requirements for labelling covering matters like the use of the terms 'fruit juice' and 'fruit juice from concentrate'.

Jams and preserves

The Jam and Similar Products Regulations require residual sulphur dioxide to be declared in the list of ingredients if it is present at levels greater than 10 milligrams per kilogram.

Meat and meat products

There are special labelling requirements for meat and meat products under the Products Containing Meat etc. Regulations. The requirements include meat ingredient declarations and information about added ingredients.

Quick frozen foods

The Quick Frozen Foodstuffs Regulations include special labelling requirements for quick frozen foods. Certain information must always appear on the label.

Medical foods, formula milk and baby foods

There are special rules on the composition, labelling and advertising for each of the four specific food categories:

  • infant and follow-on formula
  • processed cereal-based food and baby food
  • medical foods (foods necessary for the dietary management of particular medical conditions)
  • total diet replacement for use in energy restricted diets for weight reduction

See The Food Safety (Information and Compositional Requirements) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020.