EU General Rules for the Labeling of Prepackaged Food (Part 1)

Foods may not always contain exactly the indicated nutritional value due to natural variations and changes during production and storage. However, the nutrient content of the food should deviate as little as possible from the values indicated on the label so that consumers will not be misled.

Required Information on the Packaging

On food packaging, manufacturers provide information about the product. What must be written on a package is regulated by law:

  • The designation is the "name" of the food. It must describe the product clearly enough to give a clear idea to consumers about what food it is.
  • The list of ingredients provides information on the ingredients contained. They must be listed in descending order of their percentage by weight.
  • Allergenic ingredients must always be designated in the list of ingredients in such a way that the allergy sufferer recognizes the allergenic potential; they must be highlighted, for example by bold print, CAPITAL LETTERS, or underlining.
  • The quantity of certain ingredients or ingredient classes must be indicated either in the name of the food or in the list of ingredients by means of a percentage (so-called QUID labeling, QUID = Quantitative Ingredient Declaration). 
  • The net quantity indicates the contained amount of the product by the number of pieces, weight in grams (g) or kilograms (kg), or, in the case of liquids, as volume in milliliters (ml) or liters (l).
  • Packaged food must bear a best-before date or, from a microbiological point of view, particularly perishable food such as minced meat must bear a use-by date. In the case of frozen meat, frozen meat preparations, and frozen unprocessed fishery products, the freezing date must also be indicated.
  • If necessary, instructions for the storage or use of the food must be provided if they are required for proper storage or use.
  • The name and address of the manufacturer or importer of the food, located in the European Union, must be provided so that consumers have a responsible person to contact in case of questions or complaints.
  • The country of origin or place of provenance of a food must be indicated if there is an obligation to do so or if the indication is necessary to avoid misleading the consumer. For example, fresh meat is subject to an explicit obligation to indicate the country of origin or place of provenance.
  • Directions for use are required if it would otherwise be difficult to use or prepare the food. Indication of alcohol content in percent by volume is required for beverages containing more than 1.2 percent alcohol by volume.
  • Nutrition labeling in the form of a nutrition table is mandatory for almost all foods. Exceptions exist for unprocessed foods, herbs, spices, tea or coffee, and hand-crafted food. The contents of energy, fat, saturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, sugar, protein, and salt are indicated, in each case per 100 g or 100 ml.
  • The compulsory particulars must be printed on the packaging or on a label attached to it in a clearly visible place, easily understandable, clearly legible, and indelible in the prescribed minimum font size of 2 mm in relation to the "x-height". If the largest surface of the packaging is smaller than 80 cm2, the minimum font size is 0.9 mm. The language shall be the official language of the importing countries. Table 1 is an example of labeling in German.

Table 1 An Example of Labeling in German


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Information source:

Food Federation Germany. (2019). Lebensmittelkennzeichnung verstehen -. Lebensmittelverband Deutschland.



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