Everything You Need To Know About Food Labelling Terminology In The UK

Today I want to talk about the fact and fiction of food labelling terminology. Food waste is a huge problem both in the UK and worldwide, and by educating ourselves on food we can reduce the amount of food, and therefore money we’re throwing away on a daily basis.  

What Does Best Before Mean?

One of the most common food labelling terminology used is ‘best before’. This phrase is used to describe the food’s quality. If the food was passed this date then it will be safe to eat.

The phrase ‘best before’ is often found on foods such as; pasta, cereal, herbs and spices, sweets and chocolate. According to food label terminology provided that you have stored the food correctly, the food is perfectly fine to eat after the best before date. However the quality may not be at it’s best.

What Does Use By Mean?

The food labelling terminology ‘use by’ is there for your safety. If the date which is shown on the label has passed then the food is unsafe to eat, and you should therefore dispose of it.

Foods that include ‘use by’ dates will include meat and dairy products such as yogurt, cheeses and milk. If you are not going to consume food before it’s use by date, then it’s worthwhile checking whether you can freeze it. This will reduce food waste and save you money at the supermarket.  

What Does Display Until Mean?

Another common food labelling terminology you might find is ‘display until’. This doesn’t concern the consume and instead should be taken notice of by the staff working in the shop in which the produce is being sold.

Products that have a display until label will also have another label that will include either a best before date or a use by date.  

What Does Nutritional Information Mean?

By law food and drink products sold in the EU are required to provide nutritional information. This food labelling terminology will be followed by a list of the following (at a minimum) per 100g or 100ml of the food;

Energy (in kJ and kcal)
Fat (in g)
Saturates (in g)
Carbohydrate (in g)
Sugars (in g)
Protein (in g)
Salt (in g)

Plus the amount of any nutrient for which a claim has been made You may also see the label state amounts ‘per serving’ or ‘per portion’ it’s important to check what the products manufacturer determines as a serving or portion before referencing this nutritional information. However this product labelling terminology will always be in addition to the 100g or 100ml breakdown.  

What Does ‘Light’ Mean?

You may often find food labelling terminology to include words such as ‘light’, ‘lighter’ or ‘lite’. These words are only used if the food contains at least 30% less of at least one typical value such as calories or fat. To comply with EU regulations the label must explain exactly what has been reduced and by how much, for example “Light: 50% less fat’.

What Does Organic Mean?

You may find the term ‘organic’ used on some products and products label. This term can only be applied to products in which 95% or more of the ingredients are organic. Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives.

Many people believe that organic food has a higher nutrient content and is kinder to the environment and livestock. This has seen an improved demand for organic produce over the past decade which has seen prices rise significantly.

All organic products sold in the EU are required to be certified by organic control.   I hope that by sharing commonly found food labelling terminology. You will be inspired to save money at the supermarket, reduce your food waste and save money.


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