Going global with your food labels

The intricacies of exporting food products to multiple countries can be challenging – you must comply with each country’s labelling requirements. It used to be much easier to have a food product on the market that complied with the regulations of numerous markets; increasingly, these days, you need a label for every country in which you sell your product.

Is there a global labelling standard?

Codex Alimentarius has developed food labelling standards that countries can adapt or apply according to their needs. However, this is voluntary; most countries still have their own labelling legislation. Even in unified areas such as the European Union, requirements may vary between the individual countries.

How does one go about complying with legislation for multiple countries?

As there is no universal standard, you must access the labelling regulations for each individual country in which you will sell your product; these may vary slightly or quite extensively. The challenge is to get the balance right, if at all possible. By studying the requirements, you can determine whether any aspects overlap; but most often a separate label is required for every country, as usually they vary too much.

Some of the labelling requirements that may differ include the format and content of the nutritional information table, the language(s) that must be used on the label, the claims that are permitted, the manner in which ingredients are declared, and the regulated allergens.

Accessing all the various pieces of legislation is often challenging. Even within South Africa it is difficult to ensure that all applicable regulations have been considered.

FACTS has developed partnerships with a number of international agencies who can assist you in ensuring compliance with your intended market.