Food labelling e-learning course
Legibility

Legibility

'Appendix' image from Annex IV of the FIC

People need to be able to find and make sense of the information. Poor legibility undermines the FIC's role in ensuring that consumers can make informed choices and use food safely. Provisions in the Regulation aim to stop this from happening.

Availability and placement

With prepacked food, mandatory information (i.e. that required under the FIC and any other EU legislation) must be given on the package or on a label attached to it. Individual Member States can decide how to show any information they require to be given with food sold loose in their territories (this will comprise at least allergen information).

Presentation

Items of mandatory information must be conspicuous, legible and indelible, and their impact not compromised by other written or pictorial material.

The mandatory particulars listed in Article 9(1) of the FIC must be given in labelling in a way that ensures legibility. The elements of 'legibility' are identified in the Regulation as aspects including font size, spacing between letters and lines, typeface, the surface of the material and contrast between the print and the background. In due course, rules may be established for a number of these, but the FIC currently specifically controls only font size: it must be of a size where the lower case 'x' character has a height of at least 1.2mm. This is reduced to 0.9mm for food in packaging or containers where the largest surface has an area of less than 80cm2.

Weights and measures indications on products of predetermined constant quantity are subject to separate overriding size requirements in EU weights and measures legislation.

Field of vision

The FIC is not generally prescriptive about the relative positioning of the mandatory particulars. However, the name of a food, its weight or volume declaration and its alcoholic strength statement (for an alcoholic beverage) must be simultaneously visible on the package, even if on different surfaces. Glass bottles for reuse and very small packs are exempt from this requirement.

Languages used

All mandatory food information must be given in a language easily understood where the food is sold. Several languages may be used on a label as long as font size rules are followed.

Member States may stipulate the use of one or more languages for food marketed in their territories, but the UK has not done this, although products marketed in the UK should give mandatory food information in English. Other languages, such as Welsh, can be used as well as, but not instead of, English.