Food labelling e-learning course
Additional forms of expression (AFE

Additional forms of expression (AFE)

Burger label

Nutrition information may be expressed in other ways, for example colour coding of nutrients. However, the use of AFE must meet certain tightly defined criteria, for example they must be based on sound and scientifically valid consumer research.

Criteria for acceptance

The energy value and the amount of nutrients may be given by other forms of expression - presented using graphical forms or symbols as well as words or numbers. However, the forms of expression must meet the following criteria:

  • They are based on sound and scientifically valid consumer research and do not mislead the consumer.
  • They are developed as a result of stakeholder consultation.
  • They aim to facilitate consumer understanding of the contribution or importance of the food to the diet.
  • They are supported by scientifically valid evidence of understanding of such forms of expression or presentation by the average consumer.
  • In the case of other forms of expression, they are based on harmonised reference intakes or on generally accepted scientific advice.
  • They are objective and non-discriminatory.
  • They do not create obstacles to the free movement of goods.

Government recommendations and notification requirements

Member States may recommend to businesses the use of one or more additional forms of expression or presentation, but must inform the European Commission. Member States must monitor the use of AFE on their territory and may require businesses that label foods with additional forms of expression to notify the competent authority.

Recommended additional form of expression in the UK

Four UK governments have published guidance on creating a front of pack nutrition label. It supports the Health Ministers' recommendation on the use of colour coding as an additional form of expression.

A front of pack label developed in accordance with the guidance contains:

  • Energy (kJ and Kcal) per 100g or 100ml and in a specified portion
  • Amounts of fat, saturates, sugars and salt in a specified portion
  • Portion size information
  • % RI information based on the amount of each nutrient and energy value in a portion
  • Red, amber and green colour coding of the nutrients (not energy)

The descriptors "High", "Medium" and "Low" can also be used.