Ingredients The labelling of ingredients is compulsory by law for food products, with the main ingredient first, followed by the rest in descending order of weight. Percentage quantities of ingredients mentioned in the name of the product or highlighted on the label must also be given. Additives such as colouring and preservatives must also be listed, either by name or E number, and sweeteners must be labelled. Compound ingredients making up less than 25 per cent of the product need not be listed, although the EU could soon change this. Nutrition information This remains voluntary at the moment unless the product makes any nutritional claims. EU directives regulate the format of nutrition labelling and there are two ways to display the information: the basic label four ­ energy, protein, carbohydrate and fat; or the full label eight ­ the basic label four plus sugars, saturates, fibre and sodium. Any extra information, such as vitamins or minerals, is only necessary if a claim is made elsewhere on the packaging. Nutrients' values are given per 100g or 100ml, although the amount per portion is also sometimes given. Energy is described in calories or joules. Guideline daily amounts (GDAs) These provide the consumer with a perspective, allowing them to gauge how much of a particular nutrient they require and how the product fulfils that requirement. It is voluntary. Weight and volume The weight or volume of a product must always be labelled. Often the symbol e' follows the amount, to indicate that the weight or volume is an accurate average quantity for the size of packet, although each packet may contain slightly more or less. Manufacturer, packer or seller's details These details must be included on the label by law for customer information. Contains/allergen warnings A contains box may be used to highlight certain ingredients, particularly those which are known to be allergens. In the case of more seriously allergenic ingredients, such as nuts, a separate warning may appear in a more prominent position on the packaging. Use By/Best Before Another label required by law. Use By dates are included on all perishables such as meat, fish and dairy products and consumers are warned not to consume the product beyond this date. Best Before dates appear on ambient products such as tea and canned goods. It is safe to eat food after the best before date, but the quality may well have suffered. Display Until dates are used voluntarily by retailers for stock rotation purposes. Product name and pictures The product name or an illustrative picture must not be misleading. Therefore a product called pepperoni pizza must contain pepperoni, and a product must not show a picture of fruit if it contains only fruit flavourings. Country of Origin This remains voluntary except when it comes to fresh beef. Information on country of origin should not be misleading. See page xx for more information. Assurance logos Assurance schemes are a formalised code of practice, developed in the food and farming industry over the past decade and promoted and run by industry on a commercial basis. Logos include organic endorsements, cruelty free, fairly traded, locally produced, British, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, nut free, and pesticide tested assurance. For more information, see page xx. Claims Low Fat or No Added Sugar are some of the claims manufacturers are using. If the claim makes a nutritional claim, then nutritional information must be printed elsewhere on the packaging to back up that claim. The Consumers' Association is calling for greater control over the use of claims. GM Labelling controls on products containing GM foods were introduced by the EU in 1997. The labelling regulations require any food containing GM ingredients to be labelled as such. Customer Information Often companies will include a customer careline or web site address for people to use to gain more information on a product or company. Other information included on pack can range from opening instructions to whether or not the product is suitable for vegetarians. Storage Conditions Another label required by law which provides important information to allow the consumer to store the product safely. For example, Keep Refrigerated, or Suitable For Home Freezing. Cooking Instructions This label is also compulsory and gives the consumer all the information they need to prepare the product for eating. Sweeteners If sweeteners are used in a product they must be highlighted on the front of the product as well as in the ingredients list. {{FEATURES }}