Nutrition declarations

Important information and guidance on displaying nutrition declarations on packaging.

The Food Information to Consumers Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 (FIC) sets out how information on foods must be provided to consumers and applies to any food business operator supplying food to the public or to mass caterers. 

Mandatory requirements for nutrition declarations

Since 13 December 2016 nutrition declarations have been required for most* prepacked foods. This means that if you produce prepacked food then you must include the following information on the package or on the label:

  • Energy must be displayed in both kilojoules (kJ) and kilocalories (kcal) contained in 100g or 100ml of the food.
  • Values of the nutrients - fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt - must be displayed as the weight in grams (g) present in 100g or 100ml of the food.
  • The information should be displayed as in Table 1 but if space on the label is limited the information may be provided in normal linear text similar to the ingredient list.

Table 1 (back of pack)

  Values per 100g or 100ml
Energy kJ and kcal
Fat g
- of which saturates g
Carbohydrate g
- of which sugars g
Protein g
Salt g

Note that If the product contains no added salt but sodium is naturally present in the food, the following statement should appear in close proximity to the nutrition declaration:

“This product contains no added salt. Salt content is due to naturally occurring sodium.”

Corresponding statements cannot be used for any of the other nutrients.

The amount of salt in a product is calculated by determining the total sodium in a product (from naturally occurring salt and added salt plus any other sodium compounds) and multiplying by 2.5.

The information should be printed on the package or label ensuring clear legibility, in characters using a font size where the x-height (see below), is equal to or greater than 1.2mm.

Example text size for labelling

Exemptions

* While most prepacked foods need a nutrition declaration, there  is a list of  exemptions set out in Annex V of the FIC Regulation. Exemptions relate mainly to minimally processed foods and those with little nutritional value.

An exemption from the need to provide nutrition declarations also extends to small food producers which sell directly to customers from their own premises or through local retail outlets. To see if this exemption might apply to your business check the criteria set out in questions 7 to 13 of the Q & A guidance or follow the questions in the decision tree.

Supplementary Nutrients

Table 1 sets out the mandatory information needed for a nutrition declaration. However, information may also be provided voluntarily on some additional nutrients:

  • mono-unsaturated fats,
  • polyunsaturated fats,
  • polyols,
  • starch,
  • fibre,
  • vitamins and minerals.

Note that these are the only nutrients which may be added to supplement the mandatory nutrition declaration and can be used as required i.e. they do not all have to be included and may be chosen to suit the particular food.

When do the supplementary nutrients become mandatory?

Under certain circumstances, the provision of  information on some of these additional nutrients may become mandatory. This would arise if a nutrition or health claim is made for one of the additional nutrients (e.g. ‘high fibre’ or ‘calcium helps build strong bones’).

Information must also be provided in the nutrition declaration for any vitamins and minerals which have been added to the food.

If a full nutrition declaration is provided it should be displayed as in Table 2 (note the order of the nutrients):

Table 2

  Values per 100g or 100ml
Energy kJ and kcal
Fat g
- of which saturates g
- monounsaturates g
- polyunsaturates g
Carbohydrate g
- of which sugars g
- polyols g
- starch g
Fibre g
Protein g
Salt g
Vitamins and Minerals Units as in FIC Annex XIII

For more detailed information on nutrition declarations and legibility rules you should refer to the Department of Health Technical guidance on nutrition labelling.  The guidance provides information on how you can acquire the data for your nutrition declarations either by analysis of the foods or how the values may be calculated (see page 19 of the document).

Reference intakes

The guidance document also covers how to provide voluntary information on the reference intakes (RI) for various nutrients.  Reference intakes are benchmarks for the amount of energy and key nutrients that can be consumed on a daily basis in order to maintain a healthy diet. This provides a measure of how the amount of the nutrient present in the food contributes to the average female adult’s recommended daily intake of that nutrient. When the nutrition declaration includes information on  vitamins and minerals, in addition to the weight present, the % RI must also be declared.  For more information on this matter refer to page 7 of the Technical guidance on nutrition labelling.  

The guidance also provides advice on how to express nutrition information per portion and/or per consumption unit

Voluntary front of pack nutrition labelling

Provided the ‘back of pack’ information in Table 1 has been given, information on the amount of Energy, Fat, Saturates, Sugars and Salt may be repeated elsewhere on the pack. This is commonly known as front of pack nutrition labelling.

The UK has developed a scheme to build on the FIC requirements and help consumers understand the information at a glance and make informed food choices, balance their diets and control their energy intake. Example below:

Example of traffic light label for food

  • Red colour coding means the food or drink is high in this nutrient and we should try to have these foods less often or eat them in small amounts.
  • Amber means medium, and if a food label displays  mainly amber indications you can eat it most of the time.
  • Green means low, and the more green indications a label displays the healthier the choice.

Guidance to help businesses to produce a ‘front-of-pack’ label can be found here.

Please contact us if you need further information.

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