The majority of manufactured and packaged food products have to carry a full list of the ingredients they contain by law. The list shows the ingredients in descending order of weight in the finished product. There are currently no provisions made under either UK or EU food legislation which require potential allergens to be labelled. Whilst there is a general requirement that all ingredients added to a food must be declared on the ingredients list, in accordance with the
Food Labelling Regulations 1996, there are certain exceptions to this general rule. These relate to compound ingredients (an ingredient with a common name composed of multiple ingredients) which constitute less than 25% of the finished product, or to cases where the ingredient itself does not require an ingredients list if it were to be sold alone as a prepacked food (see exceptions below). Other exceptions to the Food Labelling Regulations include generic terms (e.g. fish can be used for any species of fish); 'carry-over' ingredients such as additives which do not have any technological function in the end product; additives used as processing aids; solvents/media for additives or flavourings; and those products which do not require ingredients lists at all such as food sold through catering outlets.
There are certain exceptions to the law. These include honey, condensed milk, dried milk products, coffee and coffee products, spreadable fats and chocolate. Each of these has its own regulations and needs to be considered individually.
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