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Food labelling and composition

The Food Safety Act 1990 provides enabling powers under which some food regulations are made.

It is an offence for anyone to sell, or possess for sale, food which:

  • has been rendered injurious to health
  • is unfit for human consumption
  • is falsely described, advertised or presented
  • is not of the nature, substance, or quality demanded

The EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation is in force and is implemented via the Food Information (Scotland) Regulations 2014.

If you pack and/or label foods in your business you must do so in a manner that complies with food law. Food Standards Scotland provides labelling guidance

Email any specific labelling queries you have to Environmental Health. We will then contact you.

Information that must be on food labels

Pre-packed food must be marked or labelled with the following:

  • the name of the food
  • a list of ingredients (including food allergens in emphasized or coloured text)
  • the amount of an ingredient which is named or associated with the food (eg % beef)
  • net quantity
  • an appropriate durability indication (eg 'best before' or 'use by')
  • any special storage conditions and/or instructions for use
  • name and address of the manufacturer, packer or retailer
  • place of origin (where failure to do so might mislead)
  • nutritional declaration

Detailed information about the above labelling requirements is found in our Food labelling (PDF, 329kb) guide.

Durability dates on food

Most foods must be labelled with a 'use by' or 'best before' date. 

A 'use by' date is required for foods that are highly perishable, and have a short shelf life, after which their consumption may present a risk of food poisoning. 

The 'best before' date indicates the period for which a food can reasonably be expected to retain its optimum condition.

It is illegal to sell food past its use by date. It is not strictly an offence for a shop to sell products beyond their best before date, unless they are not the quality demanded by the consumer.

Allergen labelling

If food products contain one of 14 specified allergenic ingredients, this allergenic ingredient must be highlighted in the list of ingredients on the label of prepacked foods. 

This information must also be available for non pre-packed foods, for example, sold in cafes or takeaway premises. The information can be:

  • on menus, tickets, a notice
  • given orally, provided staff are aware when questioned and a sign is displayed advising customers to ask staff about allergens in foods

Nutrition labelling

Nutrition labelling is compulsory for all pre-packed foods. There are limited exceptions. Legislation specifies the information that is required and its layout on the label.

Additional information can be provided on a voluntary basis, for example, traffic light labelling.

Contact us for help with compliance, or for information on exemptions.

Contact Environmental Health




01294 324339


North Ayrshire Council, Housing & Public Protection, Environmental Health, Cunninghame House, Irvine, KA12 8EE