Food businesses have a responsibility to ensure labels on food they manufacture comply with the regulations. Labels must display sufficient information to allow the consumer to make an informed choice when purchasing food.
Most foods must, by law, have the following information on their labels:
- Name of the food - the description must be accurate so that it does not mislead the consumer;
- List of ingredients - the list must be in descending order by weight. If an ingredient is mentioned in the name, then the amount contained in the food must be shown as a percentage;
- Indication of durability – either a 'use by' or 'best before' date;
- Any special storage conditions;
- Name and address of the manufacturer, packer or seller;
- Place of origin;
- Instructions for use;
- Allergens present – if a food contains any of the 14 Known Allergens (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) it must be highlighted on the label.
‘Use By’ and ‘Best Before’ Dates
There must be a ‘Use By’ or ‘Best Before’ date on a food label.
It is illegal to sell food beyond the 'Use By' date. This is because 'Use By' dates are only applied to certain high-risk or perishable foods.
It is not illegal to sell food beyond its 'Best Before' date. This is because the 'Best Before' dates are about the quality rather than the safety of a food.
If a complaint is made about a shop selling food that is past the 'Use By' date then one of our officers will visit the business and take appropriate action. See our Complaints section to find out more about making a complaint.
Labelling Guidance for Businesses
Labelling regulations apply to a wide range of businesses, not just manufacturers of pre-packed foods. For example, butchers must declare the meat content of their burgers, steak pies and sausages etc., bakers must declare the presence of certain colourings present in their cakes, and fishmongers must clearly state the catch area of fish on sale.
The Food Standards Agency’s Guidance Document on The Food Information Regulations 2014 (») (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) provides explanatory information to help food businesses understand and comply with established and forthcoming changes to labelling requirements.
Food allergies can be life threatening and the only way people can deal with a food allergy is to avoid the foods that make them ill. An oversight by a food business – such as serving someone food to which they are allergic – can damage the reputation of the business, as well as cause serious harm to the customer.
Food allergens cannot be removed by cooking. Therefore, it’s essential to practise good kitchen hygiene, as well as careful separation, storage and labelling of ingredients when preparing food.
Food Standards Scotland have a free online food allergy training tool that has information and guidance on ensuring the food that is produced and served to consumers is safe.
There is signage that food businesses can display to alert their customers about food allergy at
Labelling of food prepacked for direct sale
In October 2021, new legislation came into force which requires food businesses in Scotland to include the product name and full ingredient information on food sold prepacked for direct sale (PPDS). This new legislation (also known as Natasha’s Law) improves information about allergens and other ingredients in food packed in advance, mainly at the same place where it is sold before being offered to customers. Common foods that can fall into this category include sandwiches, salads, burgers, sausages, and baking made, wrapped and sold from the premises in which they are made. The change in the law offers increased protection and confidence for consumers living with a food allergy or intolerance in the food they buy out and about.
There is more information on how this affects food businesses at Information for businesses selling food prepacked for direct sale (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
There is more detailed guidance available at Guidance on labelling of food sold prepacked for direct sale (») (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
There is also a wealth of information and resources on allergens on the Food Standards Agency website at Allergen guidance for food businesses (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
From 13 December 2016, most pre-packed foods will require to be labelled with a nutrition declaration. Before this date, foods which are already labelled with a nutrition declaration must use the format set out in Regulation (EC) No 1169/2011, also known as The Food Information for Consumers Regulations.
The back of pack mandatory nutrition declaration includes the following:
- Energy value; and
- The amounts of fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars, protein and salt.
For further information on any of these topics please Contact Us.