Food Composition and Labelling

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Environmental Health Officers in the Food Team carry out food standards inspection and interventions in food businesses to look at the quality, composition, labelling, presentation, advertising of food and the materials and articles in contact with food.

The aim of a food standards inspection is to assess systems used by a food business to demonstrate that the food being produced is of the correct composition and is fairly described and labelled. The food offered for sale should not mislead the consumer. During food standards inspections officers examine the ability of the food business to:

  • Meet compositional requirements
  • Manage systems in place to ensure that the standards can be met
  • Comply with compositional (e.g. minimum meat content), labelling, advertising, menus, claims and recipes
  • Be able to demonstrate traceability
  • Comply with specifications
  • Adhere to industry codes and guidelines

Officers also ensure that food sold to the customer is of the nature, substance or quality expected.

“Nature” covers a product sold as one thing, but which is in fact another, e.g. haddock sold as cod;

“Substance” covers situations where the food contains foreign bodies (e.g. insects) or damaging residues or where there is statutory or other standard for the food and the substance falls below it, for example milk powder with below minimum milk protein level.  The necessary substance for particular products is set through compositional standards in commodity regulations for which separate guidance exists;

“Quality” covers commercial quality, having regard to any statutory standards of composition in the food, so an example of food which would not be of the quality demanded would be stale cake.

Officers also check for compliance with the Food Information Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014 which introduced a new requirement for food businesses, including manufacturers, restaurants, takeaways, retailers, bakeries and sandwich bars, to inform their customers if any of fourteen specific allergens are contained in the food they serve or sell.

For more information on allergens click here