Food products have to be provided with specific label in order to be compliant with the law. As a matter of facts, labels represent an identity card of the product and they need to include all the essential information for the customer.
In order to create label according to the law, it is compulsory to follow the indication of Reg. UE 1169/2011, the benchmark as far as pre-pack food packaging.
There are some useful advices for creating a food product label in the correct way.
Compulsory indication on food product labels
Food product label must contain some data in order to inform the customer on the food product itself, the department operator about timing and modalities of conservation.
In order to create food product labels, it is necessary to include the following compulsory information:
- Commercial name of the product;
- Complete list of ingredients;
- Nutritional statement of the product;
- Presence or possible trace of ingredients that may cause allergies or food intolerance;
- Ingredient quantities or categories;
- Net quantity of the product;
- Expiry date or minimum conservation period;
- Use and consume conditions and eventual particular conservation conditions;
- Information regarding the producer;
- Place of origin or country of origin if required;
- Effective volumetric alcoholic strength for beverage containing more than 1,2 % of alcohol on the total volume.
Compulsory information for some specific products
General information refers to all type of pre-packed food products except for some specific categories for which some additional information are requested. It deals either with food products obtained by non-common procedures or for which given substances are added.
Among food products which require additional information on their labels, there are:
- Food products packed with authorized packaging gas: it is requested to clarify that the food product in MAP (modified atmosphere packaging)
- Food products containing sweeteners: it is required to add indication as for instance either “containing sweeteners” or “containing sugar”
- Beverage with high concentration of caffeine and food containing caffeine: it is required to indicate “high level of caffein. This product is not recommended to children, pregnant and breastfeeding women”.
Food products containing phytosterols and their esters or phytostanols and their esters: if the above-mentioned substances are contained, it is requested to specify that vegetal steroids are added and all the warning and precaution indication as for instance in cheese label.
- Meat, meat-based food and processed fish-base products: frozen food products labels are required to indicate either the freezing date or the first freezing date in case it happened multiple times.
How to present food product labels
Beyond the presence of compulsory information, food product labels are supposed to be easy to read and unerodable. Reading food products labels needs to be easy, there must be no obstacles from the graphical perspective and it is suggested an appropriate contrast with the landscape in order to facilitate the customer in reading.
Writings are to be realised in appropriate dimensions with specific dimensions according to the surface of the food product packaging. Moreover, some information is supposed to be written in specific part of the label in order to be read together with another information.
Omission of compulsory indication in labels and penalties
There are some exceptions in which it is possible omitting some information as for instance either when packaging wider surface is less than 10 cm² or when the list of ingredients is provided in other ways. In these circumstances it is possible to leave out the list of ingredients, the commercial name e the net quantity of the product.
The law provides for penalties from € 500,00 to €4.000 in case of non-compliant labels towards to food sector operator, wholesalers and small groceries. In case of non-compliant modifications, they risk a penalty from €2.000,00 to €16.000,00. While in case of omission of compulsory information it implicates a penalty from €3.000,00 to €24.000,00.