Foodlaw-Reading

Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Last updated: 17 August, 2018

UK Food Labelling

Historical Development of Legal Controls (1943-1996)

This page provides, in reverse chronological order, access to the main UK regulations on food labelling between 1943 and 1996 as well as some supporting documents. The links provide access to only those for England and Wales - for Scotland and Northern Ireland, separate controls were issued from the mid-1950s.

Note: Although the legal requirements for labelling were primarily contained in the general food labelling regulations listed below, there were numerous additional requirements for specific foods or food categories that were imposed in other specific regulations. Those additionl regulations are not included here.


Summary

During the early part of the twentieth century, there was a slow development of food controls primarily linked to the protection of consumers' health. There was though a debate about the value of having specific food standards and general labelling rules.  The Food and Drugs Act 1938 provided for the first time a general offence for all foods.  Section 6 of that Act made it an offence to sell a food (or drug) which had a label which ‘falsely describes that food or drug, or is otherwise calculated to mislead as to its nature, substance or quality’ unless the seller was able to demonstrate that they did not know that the label incorrect.  In addition, Section 8 of the Act (relating to the power to make regulations) included authority for the Minister of Health to issue regulations for the purpose of ‘requiring wrappers or containers enclosing or containing food of various kinds to be labelled or marked in accordance with the Regulations.

The outbreak of the Second World War meant that the power to make labelling regulation was not immediately acted on.  Responsibility for food supply and its quality was given to a newly established Ministry of Food.  In 1943, emergency ‘defence’ legislation was used to replace the provisions of the Food and Drugs Act 1938 relating to labelling - in addition to relating to the sale of food, the new powers extended the offence to the display of food. The background to this was described in a brief White Paper ('The Labelling and Advertising of Foods' – see below).  Using these new powers, in 1944 the Minister of Food issued the first ‘Labelling of Food Order, 1944’.  This was subject to various revisions and extensions with revised versions being issued. As the supply of food remained difficult for several years after the end of the war, the defence powers were retained. In 1953 an updated version of the Order was introduced and, although it was amended, it was largely replaced with the adoption of the Labelling of Food Regulations 1967 (although it was only fully revoked from 1st January 1973 by the subsequent 1970 Regulations).

With the UK joining the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973, subsequent labelling controls have been influenced by Directives adopted by the EEC (and, subsequently, the European Communities (EC) and European Union (EU)). The content of the Directives had to be written into the UK regulations. The list below concludes with the Food Labelling Regulations 1996.  These Regulations were however also amended on numerous occasions as a result of further modifications to the agreed EU controls (for more details, see the UK section of the Food Labelling in the European Union - Archive Page).  In 2011 there was a complete updating of the EU requirements with the adoption of a Regulation on the ‘Provision of Food Information to Consumers’.  As an EU Regulation, UK provisions no longer contain details of the legal requirements - the Regulation has to be consulted..


To access the documents, click on the image.

1996

Food Labelling Regulations 1996 (SI 1996 No. 1499)

  • "These Regulations, which apply to Great Britain, consolidate and replace the Food Labelling Regulations 1984, the Food Labelling (Scotland) Regulations 1984 and the Milk Labelling (Scotland) Regulations 1983, and continue to implement Council Directive No. 79/112/EEC (OJ No. L33, 8.2.79, p.1) on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs (apart from the provisions of that Directive relating to net quantity), as now amended by Council Directives 85/7/EEC (OJ No. L2, 3.1.85, p.22), 86/197/EEC (OJ No. L144, 29.5.86, p.38) and 89/395/EEC (OJ No. L186, 30.6.89, p.17) and Commission Directives 91/72/EEC (OJ No. L42, 15.2.91, p.27) and 93/102/EEC (OJ No. L291, 25.11.93, p.14). They also implement Commission Directive 87/250/EEC (OJ No. L113, 30.4.87, p.57) on the indication of alcoholic strength by volume in the labelling of alcoholic beverages for sale to the ultimate consumer, Council Directive 89/398/EEC (OJ No. L186, 30.6.89, p.27) on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to foodstuffs intended for particular nutritional uses, Council Directive 90/496/EEC (OJ No. L276, 6.10.90, p.40) on nutrition labelling for foodstuffs, and Commission Directive 94/54/EC (OJ No. L300, 23.11.94, p.14), as now amended by Council Directive 96/21/EC (OJ No. L88, 5.4.96), concerning the compulsory indication on the labelling of certain foodstuffs of particulars other than those provided for in Council Directive 79/122/EEC."

1994

Food Labelling (Amendment) Regulations 1994 (S.I. 1994/804)

  • "These Regulations, which apply to England and Wales only, further amend the Food Labelling Regulations 1984 (“the principal Regulations”). They implement the provisions of Council Directive No.90/496/EEC (OJ No. L276, 6.10.90, p.40) on nutrition labelling for foodstuffs. ...."

1993

Food Labelling (Amendment) Regulations 1993 (S.I. 1993/2759)

  • "These Regulations, which apply to England and Wales, come into force on 29th November 1993. The Regulations further amend the Food Labelling Regulations 1984 by removing from Schedule 7 to those Regulations the entries relating to shandy, shandygaff, ginger beer shandy, cider shandy, cider shandygaff and cider and ginger beer shandy (regulation 2). Prior to this amendment the use of any of these descriptions in relation to a drink other than in accordance with the appropriate accompanying conditions was to apply a misleading description to that drink, contrary to the requirements of regulation 38(1) of the Food Labelling Regulations 1984."

1990

Food Labelling (Amendment) Regulations 1990 (S.I. 1990/2488)

  • "These Regulations, which apply to England and Wales only, further amend the Food Labelling Regulations 1984 (“the principal Regulations”). They implement provisions of Council Directive No. 79/112/EEC (OJ No. L33, 8.2.79, p.1) on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs as added or varied by Council Directive No. 89/395/EEC (OJ No. L186, 30.6.89, p. 17). ...."

1989

Food Labelling (Amendment) Regulations 1989 (S.I. 1989/768)

  • "These Regulations, which apply to England and Wales only, further amend the Food Labelling Regulations 1984 (“the principal Regulations”) in respect of alcoholic strength marking and nutrition labelling. The Regulations continue to implement Council Directive No. 79/112/EEC (OJ No. L33, 8.2.79, p.1) on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs for sale to the ultimate consumer, as now amended by Council Directive 86/197/EEC (OJ No. L144, 29.5.86, p.38) requiring an indication of the alcoholic strength of alcoholic beverages and supplemented by Commission Directive 87/250/EEC (OJ No. L113, 30.4.87, p.57). ...."

1984

Food Labelling Regulations 1984 (SI 1984 No. 1305)

  • "These regulations, which apply to England and Wales only, supersede the Food Labelling Regulation 1980, and continue to implement Council Directive No 79/112/EEC (OJ No L33, 8.2.79, p.1) on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs for sale to the ultimate consumer (apart from the provisions of that Directive relating to net quantity) except in relation to milk and certain additives, and Council Directive No 77/94/EEC (OJ No L26, 3.1.77, p.55) on the approximation of the laws of the member States relating to foodstuffs for particular nutritional uses, and the labelling requirements for alcoholic drinks imposed pursuant to Council Directive No 76/766/EEC (OJ No L262, 27.9/76, p.149) on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to alcoholic tables."

1982

Food Labelling (Amendment) Regulations 1982 (S.I. 1982/1700)

  • "These regulations amend the Food Labelling Regulations 1980 ("the 1980 regulations"), which apply to England and Wales only. The regulations - ...."

1980

Food Labelling Regulation 1980 (SI 1980 No. 1849)

  • "These Regulations, which apply to England and Wales only, implement Council Directive No. 79/112/EEC (O.J. No. L33, 8.2.79, p.1) on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs for sale to the ultimate consumer (apart from the provisions of that Directive relating to presentation and net quantity), except in relation to milk and certain additives, and Council Directive No. 77/94/EEC (O.J. No. L26, 31.1.77, p.55) on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to foodstuffs for particular nutritional uses. ...."

1972

Labelling of Food (Amendment) Regulations 1972 (SI 1972 No. 1510)

  • "These regulations, which apply to England and Wales only, amend the Labelling of Food Regulations 1970 ("the 1970 Regulations") which come into operations on 1st January 1973. Transitional arrangements are provided until 1st July 1973 (regulation 3). The regulations ...."

1970

Labelling of Food Regulation 1970 (SI 1970 No. 400)

  • "These regulations, which apply to England and Wales only, revoke the Labelling of Food Regulations 1967 on 31st March 1970 (before those regulations would have come into operation for all foods other than those containing cyclamates). They supersede the Labelling of Food Order 1953, as amended, on 1st January 1973. ...."

1967

Labelling of Food Regulations 1967 (SI 1967 No. 1864)

  • "These regulations, which apply to England and Wales only, supersede certain provisions of the Labelling of Food Order, 1953, as amended, relating to the labelling and description of food. To the extent that they apply to any food (other than a soft drink) containing cyclamate, the regulations come into operation on 1st January 1968: in all other respects, they come into operation on 4th January 1971. ...."

1961

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Circular Letter - Labelling of Food (Amendment) Regulations, 1961 (FSH 4/61)

  • "I am directed by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to enclose for the information of your Authority a copy of the Labelling of Food (Amendment) Regulations, 1958, which he has jointly made with the Minister of Health. ...."

Labelling of Food (Amendment) Regulations 1961 (SI 1961 No. 440)

  • "These regulations, which apply in England and Wales only, amend the Labelling of Food Order, 1953, as amended (which Order has effect in England and Wales as if contained in regulations under section 7 of the Food and Drugs Act, 1955) ...."

 

1959

Labelling of Food (Amendment) Regulations, 1959 (SI 1959 No. 471)

  • "These regulations, which apply in England and Wales only, amend the Labelling of Food Order, 1953, as amended (which Order has effect in England and Wales as if contained in regulations under section 7 of the Food and Drugs Act, 1955) by inserting therein new provisions relating to ice-cream. ...."

1958

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Circular Letter - Labelling of Food (Amendment) Regulations, 1958 (FSH 5/58)

  • "I am directed by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to enclose for the information of your Authority a copy of the Labelling of Food (Amendment) Regulations, 1958, which he has jointly made with the Minister of Health. ...."

Labelling of Food (Amendment) Regulations, 1958 (SI 1958 No. 717)

  • "These Regulations, which apply in England and Wales only, revoke Article 8(d) of the Labelling of Food Order, 1953 (which Order has effect in England and Wales as if contained in Regulations under section 7 of the Food and Drugs Act, 1955) thereby removing the requirement that no liquour shall be labelled as a cocktail or as a mixture containing spirits unless it contains not less than 40 per cent. proof spirit."

1955

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Circular Letter - Labelling of Food (Amendment) Regulations, 1955, .. (MF 11/55)

  • "I am directed by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to enclose for the information of your Authority copies of the Labelling of Food (Amendment) Regulations, 1955, and the Food Standards (Butter and Margarine) Regulations, 1955. ...."

Labelling of Food (Amendment) Regulations, 1955 (SI 1955 No. 1900)

  • "These Regulations, which apply in England and Wales only, amend the Labelling of Food Orde 1953 as amended (which Order has effect in England and Wales as if contained in regulations under section 7 of the Food and Drugs Act, 1955), to re-enact with modifications certain requirements of the repealed sections n32(2) and 33 of the Food and Drugs Act, 1938, relating to the labelling, marketing and advertising of margarine and margarine-cheese. ...."

1953

Labelling of Food (Amendment) Order, 1953 (SI 1953 No. 1889)

  • "This amending Order - (a) permits the use of the description "Atholl Brose" for a product consisting of malt whisky, oatmeal, honey and cream containing not less than 25 per cent. proof spirit; (b) permits flour, National Flour and National Brown Flour to be sold without a declarationof ingredients in so far as they comply as regards composition with the requirements of the Flour Order, 1953; (c) removes from Table C of the Forst Schedule to the principal Order specific reference to solft drinks, saccharin tablets and sweetening tablets which are now the subject of Standards Orders and therefore fall within the first item in Table C, which is a Table of pre-packed foods of which the ingredients need n ot be specified on the label."

Labelling of Food Order, 1953 (SI 1953 No. 536)

  • "This Order substantially re-enacts in a consolidated and revised form the Labelling of Food Order, 1950, and its amending Order. Certain new provisions have been introduced the principal ones being ... "

1952

Ministry of Food: Circular Letter - Labelling of Food Order, 1950: Coronation Souvenir Boxes (MF 16/52)

  • "I am directed by the Minister of Food to inform you that Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to authorise during 1953 a temporary relaxation of the rules governing the use of Royal Titles, Emblems and Photographs insofar as articles of a pemanent kind which have been manufactured specially as souvenirs of Her Majesty are concerned. ...."

Labelling of Food (Amendment) Order, 1952 (SI 1952 No. 549)

  • "This amending Order provides that from 31st March, 1952, Christmas puddings shall cease to be exempt from the requirements of the Labelling of Food Order, 1950, which require the ingredients to be specified on the label."

1951

Labelling of Food (Amendment) Order, 1951 (SI 1951 No. 462)

  • "This amending Order extends the period during which Christmas puddings may be sold free from the requirements to specify ingredients."

1950

Ministry of Food: Circular Letter - Labelling of Food Order, 1950 (MF 12/50)

  • "I am directed by the Minister of Food to send for the information of the Authority a copy of S.I. 1959 No. 1061 which amends and consolidates the Labelling of Food Order, S.R. & O. 1946, No. 2169 (as amended). ...."

Labelling of Food Order, 1950 (SI 1950 No. 1061)

  • "This Order substantially re-enacts in a consolidated form the Labelling of Food Order, 1946, and its amending Orders. Weights and measures provisions are omitted. Certain new provisions have been introduced the principal ones being ... "

1949

Ministry of Food: Circular Letter - Defence (Sale of Food) Regulations, 1943 (M.F. 16/49)

  • "I am directed by the Minister of Food to enclose for your information a copy of "The Advertising, Labelling and Composition of Food". This is an account of the administration of the Defence (Sale of Food) Regulations by the Food Standards & Labelling Division of the Ministry during the years 1943-48. ...."
(not yet available on this site)

 

The Advertising, Labelling and Composition of Food

 

Labelling of Food (Amendment No. 2) Order, 1949 (SI 1949 No. 1536)

  • "This amending Order - (a) imposes special requirements as to the labelling of frozen peas; and (b) transfers Christmas puddings from Table C in the First Schedule to the principal Order to item 8 of Table A in that Schedule thereby providing that notwithstanding the revocation of the Manufactured and Pre-packed Foods (Control) Order, 1942, the ingredients of Christmas puddings need not be specified in accordance with Article 2(3) of the principal Order."

Labelling of Food (Amendment) Order, 1949 (SI 1949 No. 1161)

  • "This amending Order continues in force the exmption of beer brewed in the United Kingdom from the labelling requirements of the Labelling of Food Order, 1946."

1948

Ministry of Food: Circular Letter - The Labelling of Food Order 1946 (MF 9/48)

  • "I am directed by the Minister of Food to send for the information of the Authority, a copy of S.I. 1948 No. 2598 (Amendment No. 4 to the Labelling of Food Order S.R. & O. 1946, No. 2169) which permits the sale of soft drinks labelled S.D.I. by wholesalers until 1st March, 1949, and by retailers until 1st June, 1949, free from the requirements of the Order. ...."

Labelling of Food Order 1948 (Amendment No. 4) Order, 1948 (SI 1948 No 2598)

  • "This amending Order permits, for a limited period, the sale by certain wholesalers and by retailers of pre-packed soft drinks bearing the S.D.I. label free from the labelling requirements of the main Order."

Labelling of Food (General Licence) Order, 1947 (Amendment) Order. 1948 (SI 1948 No. 1438)

  • "This Oder extends the period during which beer brewed in the United Kingdom may be sold free from the labelling requirements of the Labelling of Food Order, 1946."

1947

Labelling of Food Order 1946 (Amendment No. 3) Order, 1947 (SR&O 1947 No 2709)

  • This amending Order - (1) permits custard powders and blancmanges to be sold without a declaration of ingredients; (2) requires sauces other than thick mixed fruit sauces, thin sauces of the Worcester type and tomato suace or ketchup to be labelled with a declartion of ingredients; (3) permits the sale of Advocat (a mixture of eggs, spirit, sugar and flavouring) containing not less than 30 per cent. proff spirit; (4) requires spa waters and certain soft drinks to comply with the provisions of the main Order except as regards the declaration of ingredients and minimum quantity of contents; (5) requires unfermented apple juice to comply with the provisions of the main Order. ..."

Labelling of Food (Amendment No. 2) Order, 1947 (SR&O 1947 No 2001)

  • "This amending Order permits a claim on a label and in an advertisement that butter is a natural source of vitamin A without requiring the quantity to be specified."

Labelling of Food (General Licence) Order, 1947 (SR&O 1947 No. 1310)

  • "This Order permits for a limited period the sale of beer brewed in the United Kingdom free from the labelling requirements of the Labelling of Food Order, 1946."
Labelling of Food (Amendment) Order, 1947 (SR&O 1947 No 757)
  • "This amending Order exempts fresh fruit and vegetables )other than potatoes) and single toffee apples from the labelling requirements of the Labelling of Food Order, 1946."

1946

Labelling of Food Order, 1946 (SR&O 1946 No 2169)

  • "This Order revokes and substantially re-enacts in a consolidated form the Labelling of Food (No. 2) Order, 1944, and its amending Orders. New provisions have been introduced, particularly as to the labelling of intoxicating liquors. .... "

1945

Order Amending the Labelling of Food (No. 2) Order, 1944 (SR&O 1945 No. 1550)

  • "Hitherto the labelling provisions of the Labelling of Food (No.2) Order, 1944, have not applied to intoxicating liquor. This amending Order brings them into operation as regards "sweets", including British wines, and spirituous liquors containing not more than 40 per cent. proof spirit, subject to certain modifications necessitated by the nature of these products. An additional Article imposes restrictions on the labelling of such products, if the fruit basis of the product is not exclusively grapes, or the products derived from grapes. This Order will come into force on the 1st April, 1946, except that as regards the sale or delivery of intoxicating liquor by the packer or labeller otherwise by retail the Order will come into force on the 1st February, 1946.
Order in Council Amending Regulation 3 of the Defence (Sale of Food) Regulations, 1943 (SR&O 1945 No 1454 )
[???]
[??? - No. 1178 ]

Order Amending the Labelling of Food (No. 2) Order, 1944, and Granting a General Licence Thereunder (SR&O 1945 No. 464)

  • "The purpose of this amending Order is to permit the sale of ice-cream and canned vegetables without a declaration of the ingredients appearing on the label. Canned vegetables must, however, comply as regards composition with the requirements of the Canned Fruit and Vegetables Order, 1945. A similar exemption from declartion of ingredients is also provided for a limited period for custard powder, free running salt and iodised salt."

1944

Labelling of Food (No. 2) Order, 1944 (SR&O 1944 No 1447)

  • "This Order revokes and re-enacts the provisions of the Labelling of Food Order 1944 (S.R. & O. 1944 No 738), and provides for postponement of the date of operation except so far as advertisments are concerned."

Labelling of Food Order, 1944 (SR&O 1944 No 738)

  • "This Order is issued under the powers given to the Minister of Food by Regulation 2 of the Defence (Sale of Food) Regulations, 1943, and implements the policy announced in paragraphs 8 and 9 of the White Paper on the Labelling and Advertising of Foods (Cmd. 6482). ..."

1943

Ministry of Food: Circular Letter - The Defence (Sale of Food) Regulations 1943 (FSL.2/43)

  • "Suspension of Sec.6 of Food & Drugs Act. I am directed to remind you that Regulation 1 of the Defence (Sale of Food) Regulations, 1943, comes into force on the 1st January, 1944, from which date Section 6 of the Food & Drugs Act, 1938, is suspended so far as it relates to food as defined in the Regulations. ...."

The Labelling and Advertsing of Foods (Cmd. 6482)

  • "The Ministry of Food is charged with the responsibility of providing the public with a supply of food which is adequate in quantity ans satisfactory in quality to maintain the nation in health. This carries with it the obligation to protect the consumer against being misled in regard to foodstuffs which are offered for sale...."
Defence (Sale of Food) Regulations, 1943 (SR&O 1943 No 1553)

Page first provided: 17 August 2018


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