Food Labelling Legislation Changes
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Calorie labelling on food packaging has been in place for many years and gives consumers comparable information on how many calories that food contains per serving or 100g. The notable, perhaps, exception has been where food is prepared for immediate sale such as is restaurants, cafés and takeaways where almost no calorific information is given. This is not the case in all establishments but until recently supplying this information was voluntary rather than legally required.
Table of contents
Food Labelling Legislation Changes
On the 6th April 2022, the Calorie Labelling (Out of Home Sector) (England) Regulations 2021 (the Regulations) came into force which makes it a legal requirement for large companies (those with 250 or more employees) which offer non-prepacked food or drink for immediate consumption by the person why buys it to show calorie information for the food or drink being sold. Examples of the types of business included in this are (this is not an exhaustive list):
- restaurants, fast food outlets, cafes, pubs and supermarkets
- home delivery services and third-party apps selling food that is included in the scope
- cafes and takeaways within larger shops and venues, such as supermarkets, department stores, and entertainment venues such as cinemas
- specialist food stores, delicatessens, sweet shops and bakeries
- contract catering – for example, for events and canteens
- domestic transport businesses including planes, trains, ferries and other forms of water transport within the UK
What food requires labels?
Any food that is available for immediate consumption which means any food that is prepared and consumed on the premises or any food which requires no further processing (cooking) to be consumed by the purchaser off the premises where it was sold. The food also needs to be not prepacked and this means that the food is only packed on the premises either for immediate sale or is packed after processing on the premises for direct sale to the purchaser. Food types that are in scope are (not an exhaustive list)
- bakery stores: hot beverages (all varieties), sausage rolls, pies, pasties, pizza slices, breakfast rolls, sandwiches, toasties, pastries, biscuits and cakes
- coffee shops or cafes: hot beverages (all varieties), biscuits, cakes, muffins, pastries, sandwiches, paninis, toasties, wraps, soups, pasta bowls, salads, porridge, cereals and yogurts
- quick service restaurants: hot drinks (all varieties), breaded chicken pieces, burgers, fries, onion rings, pizza, pasta, rice boxes, salad boxes, wraps, ice cream sundaes, cakes and muffins
- restaurants or canteens: hot beverages (all varieties), starters, sides or small plates, mains, buffets and ‘build your own’, desserts and ‘build your own’, and breakfast or brunch. For build your own, businesses will need to read the government guidance on how to label the foodstuffs being put into the dish. The guidance link is given at the end of the article
- sandwich bars: hot beverages (all varieties), sandwiches including ‘build your own’ sandwiches prepared at the consumer’s request, filled rolls, baguettes, bagels, salads, pasta bowls and cakes
- supermarket grab and go: hot beverages (all varieties), in-store bakery items (such as loose pastries, cakes, biscuits), ready to eat delicatessen items (such as sushi, cooked pizza) and sandwiches
Not all foods will come under the legislation and some exemptions are:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables such as loose potatoes or oranges
- Unprocessed products which are a single ingredient such as nuts or herbs
- Fish, meats or cheese as long as they don’t form an ingredient of a food such as fish in a sushi dish
- Food that is only on a menu temporarily (less than 30 days)
- Food that is made expressly for a customer as a one off or for customer specific customisation, e.g. when a customer asks for an extra item which is not part of the normal menu
- Alcohols over 1.2% ABV
What information is needed?
At its most basic every in-scope business which sells an in-scope food, needs to supply the following:
- display the energy content of the food in kilocalories (kcal), there is no requirement to show this information in kilojoules.
- reference the size of the portion to which the calorie information relates. If the food as described is meant to be consumed by one person in one sitting then there is no need to display the portion size as it is assumed to be 1
- display the statement that ‘adults need around 2000 kcal a day’ (for the purposes of this guidance, this statement will be referred to as the ‘statement of daily calorie needs’)
This information needs to be displayed at the point of choice for the consumer, i.e. the menu from which they are making their choice. The Government has given guidance on how to display the information for various circumstances.
There is further information on the new Food Labelling Legislation Changes on the Government’s guidance webpage which can be viewed here.