Food labelling changes Dec 14th 2014

A new food labelling law and a new government front-of-pack nutrition labelling scheme is coming into force.

This new regulation considerably changes existing legislation on food labelling, standardising nutrition information on processed foods.

It will include new legislation for both prepackaged and non prepacked foods including food sold in restaurants and cafés

The new rules will apply from 13 December 2014. The obligation to provide nutrition information will apply from 13 December 2016

New traffic light label for Front of Pack

new food label

The front of pack labels will include information on the percentage of Reference Intake (RI) with traffic light colours – green, amber, red.

The lozenge label shows if products have high (red), medium (amber) or low (green) amounts of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar.

For healthy eating choose foods with greens and amber and go easy on the reds.

Labelling changes

  • Reference Intake (RI) is replacing Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA)
  • Energy as calories and kilojoules are no longer colour coded.
  • Kilojoules (kJ) are shown with calories (kcal) on front of packs and shown as 100g and per portion.
  • The order of nutrition information on the nutrition table is changing.
  • Sat fat is replaced with saturated fat, sugars are used instead of sugar, salt is shown instead of sodium.
  • The government criteria for the traffic light colours has changed.

Reference Intakes are a guide to the maximum amounts of calories, fat, saturates, sugars and salt an adult should consume in a day (based on an average female adult). They were formerly known as Guideline Daily Amounts (GDAs).

Reference intakes (EU FIC Annex XIII part B) for FoP nutrition labels7

Energy (kJ)  8,400
Energy (kcal)  2,000
Fat   70g
Saturates   20g
Sugars   90g
Salt    6g

The calculations for arriving at the correct % RI for each nutrient and energy are as follows:
𝐴𝑚𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑛𝑢𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑝𝑒𝑟 𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 /𝑅𝐼x100= %RI
𝐸𝑛𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑦 𝑣𝑎𝑙𝑢𝑒 𝑝𝑒𝑟 𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑟 100𝑔 𝑜𝑟 100𝑚𝑙/RI 𝑥 100 = % 𝑅𝐼 𝑥 100

RIs for fat, saturates, sugars and salt are the maximum amounts that should be consumed in a day. These are the figures currently used on most FoP labels and are ‘adult’ values, based on an average sized woman, doing an average amount of physical activity.

Traffic light labels help you to balance your diet. Sainsbury’s has a brilliant website on this.

How do I know if a food is high in fat, saturated fat, sugar or salt?

There are guidelines to tell you if a food is high in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugar, or not. These are:

Total fat
High: more than 17.5g of fat per 100g
Low: 3g of fat or less per 100g

Saturated fat
High: more than 5g of saturated fat per 100g
Low: 1.5g of saturated fat or less per 100g

High: more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g
Low: 5g of total sugars or less per 100g

High: more than 1.5g of salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)
Low: 0.3g of salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)
Back of pack
The provision of nutrition information on the back of packs will become compulsory in the near future and there will be some small changes to the format required. It covers all aspects of food labelling, including the size of the letters on packaging. By the end of 2016, providing nutrition information on the back of packaged foods will be compulsory. The format of nutrition labels, on the back of pack, will change slightly under the new rules, including the order and type of nutrients displayed

Front-of-pack labelling, such as the traffic light labelling or RIs, will remain optional.


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