Food labelling e-learning course
Ingredients lists: exemptions and basic rules

Ingredients lists: exemptions and basic rules

Typical ingredients list

Most prepacked foods should be marked with a list of ingredients. The legislation is very clear about how this should be done.

A list of ingredients should carry a heading consisting of or including the word 'ingredients'. Ingredients are then listed in descending order of their weights at the time they were used in the production of the food. The precision of an ingredient name should be informed by the name that would be required if it was sold on its own as a food, although in certain cases the use of less precise, 'generic' names is permitted.

Products not requiring an ingredients list

Certain foods don't need to be marked with an ingredients list, such as:

  • unpeeled, uncut fresh fruit and vegetables
  • carbonated water, if described as carbonated
  • basic vinegar, cheese, butter, fermented milk and cream containing no non-essential ingredients
  • single-ingredient foods named so that the nature of the ingredient is clear
  • alcoholic drinks

Constituents not required to be included in ingredients lists

The following ingredients don't need to be listed:

  • Those components of an ingredient that were temporarily isolated during product manufacture but reintroduced in their original proportions, such as egg yolk and egg white used separately in a product but declared as 'egg'.
  • Non-functional carryover additives and enzymes.
  • Additives, enzymes and other substances used as processing aids.
  • Carriers for additives, enzymes, flavourings and nutrients.
  • Water used up in reconstituting concentrated or dried ingredients.
  • Water as part of a liquid medium that is not normally consumed.

Further rules and flexibility

For particular ingredients or combinations of ingredients there is flexibility around listing in descending order by weight or grouping ingredients.

The listing of additives, flavourings and compound ingredients has particular rules.

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