When designing product labels, your main goal is to get your product recognised on the supermarket shelf. For the consumer that wants to examine your product carefully, you can provide information for the consumer which may include the following:
- Product brand and associated logo and colours
- The name of the manufacturer
- The product category
- Size of the product such as number of grams in a box or millilitres in a bottle.
- A company or product slogan which highlights the benefit of the product.
- Other information such as testimonials or even references to other marketing.
However, when it comes to food labels, you are required by law to provide much more information to the consumer. Local food producers and manufacturers as well as importers are bound by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
These standards come under the Legislative Instruments Act 2003. These Standards are on the Australian Comlaw website.
The Food Standards Code actually has four standards of code for producers and manufactures to comply with. These are:
Chapter 1 – General Food Standards
Chapter 2 – Food Product Standards
Chapter 3 – Food Safety Standards (Australia Only)
Chapter 4 – Primary Productions Standards (Australia Only)
There is no shortage of rules and that is fair enough because governments have an obligation to protect its people from unhealthy food. As consumers, we should also feel comfortable that there are strong regulatory bodies watching over the food we consume.
So what are the implications for food labels?
According to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), food labels must include the following:
- Nutritional information. This includes how much energy measure in kilojoules, protein, total fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugar and salt is in a product.
- Ingredients. E.g. How much mango is in a mango yoghurt? Also, ingredients must be listed in order of weight from the highest to the lowest.
- Allergies. Any products such as peanuts which may cause allergic reactions must be noted.
- Use-By date.
- Storage requirements. E.g. Is refrigeration necessary? Should the product be kept frozen?
- Information on food additives.
Despite these strict rules, there are a number of circumstances in which food labels are not required. Here is a list of most of these:
a) Unpackaged food such as fresh meat, fruit, vegetables and nuts
b) Food sold in a restaurant
c) Food cooked on the premises. E.g. bread at a bakery
d) Food packed in the presence of the customer. E.g. at a take-away shop
e) Visible packaged fruit and vegetables except bean sprouts
f) Food delivered at the customer’s request, e.g. pizza
g) Food sold at a fundraising event, e.g. at a school fete
It is the responsibility of the food producers rather than the label printing or packaging company to be up-to-date with the legal requirements of food labelling. There is a lot to be learned before food labels can be designed.