Food labelling e-learning course
Definitions and general rule

Definitions and general rule

Greek style yogurt - Produced in the UK

For many foods the giving of origin information is voluntary. However, like all food information provided, origin indications must not mislead whether they are being given on a mandatory basis or voluntarily.


The FIC identifies the origin of a food as being either its 'country of origin' or 'place of provenance'. The 'country of origin' is the country from which the product was wholly obtained or, if production involved more than one country, the country where the product last underwent substantial, economically justified processing. The 'place of provenance' is any place where a food is indicated to come from that is not the 'country of origin'.

The FIC makes it clear that the legally required food business name and address details on a label do not constitute an origin statement.

General rule

Unless required under a specific rule (see page on 'Further mandatory origin labelling'), an indication of country of origin or place of provenance is only mandatory for prepacked products in general where, in its absence, the consumer might be misled as to the true origin of the food. This could arise particularly where aspects of the labelling of the food (including pictures etc.) might imply for the consumer an origin which was incorrect. To indicate authentic characteristics the packaging of a prepacked baguette, for instance, might depict the colours of the French flag, or a product's chosen name might include a geographical reference, e.g. 'Greek style yogurt', but if the origin of the products was not France or Greece respectively, then the true origin would need to be stated.

Where origin information is given voluntarily on a label, this must follow the rules as if it was being given on a mandatory basis, except that the legibility requirements do not apply (see Mandatory information and legibility module). In terms of label space, the mandatory food information on a label must be prioritised over voluntary information, so on a small label a business may find that it is not possible to include voluntary origin information.

1 of 4