Labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs

Pre-packaged foodstuffs must comply with the rules on labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs. These rules are harmonised at European Union (EU) level to enable European consumers to make informed choices and to remove obstacles to the free circulation of foodstuffs and unequal conditions of competition.


Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 March 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs [See amending act(s)].


The Directive applies to pre-packaged foodstuffs to be delivered to the final consumer or to restaurants, hospitals, canteens and other similar mass caterers. It does not apply to products intended for export outside the European Union (EU).

The labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs must not:


The labelling of foodstuffs must include compulsory information. The particulars indicated on products must be easy to understand, visible, legible and indelible. Some of them must appear in the same field of vision.

The compulsory particulars include:


The European provisions applicable to specific foodstuffs may authorise making particulars such as the list of ingredients and date of minimum durability optional. These provisions may provide for other compulsory particulars, provided this does not result in the purchaser being inadequately informed.

Special provisions apply to:


The marketing of foodstuffs which comply with the Directive may be prohibited only in the case of non-harmonised national provisions that are justified on particular grounds, such as the protection of public health, prevention of fraud or the protection of industrial or commercial property.


The implementation of the Directive is the responsibility of the European Commission, assisted by the Standing Committee on Foodstuffs (authorisation of national rules relating to certain foodstuffs and making provision for the listing of ingredients in addition to the name under which the product is sold, derogations in respect of compulsory particulars, description of an additive as an ingredient, changes to the annexes, adoption of transitional measures, etc.).

Directive 2000/13/EC replaces Council Directive 79/112/EEC on the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2000/13/EC



OJ L 109 of 6.5.2000

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2001/101/EC



OJ L 310 of 28.11.2001

Directive 2002/67/EC



OJ L 191 of 19.7.2002

Acts of Accession of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia to the EU.


No later than 2007

OJ L 236 of 23.9.2003

Directive 2003/89/EC



OJ L 308 25.11.2003

Directive 2006/107/EC



OJ L 363 of 20.12.2006

Directive 2006/142/EC



OJ L 368 of 23.12.2006

Regulation (EC) No 1332/2008



OJ L 354 of 31.12.2008

Regulation (EC) No 596/2009



OJ L 188 of 18.7.2009

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 2000/13/EC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 January 2008 on the provision of food information to consumers [COM(2008) 40 - Not published in the Official Journal]. This Proposal for a Regular amalgamates Directives 2000/13/EC and 90/496/EEC on nutritional labelling, in order to improve levels of information and protection for European consumers.

The Proposal introduces new requirements in labelling. Mandatory information should include in particular the identity of goods, their composition and nutritional characteristics, their origin and conditions for safe use (durability, incidence and likelihood of danger to health). This information must be supplied in an honest way and should be easy for the consumer to read and understand. The minimum print size should be 3mm.

Nutritional labelling should include compulsory information such as:

Moreover, consumers should be able to access adequate information, in particular when purchasing foodstuffs by Internet or other means of distance selling. The same goes for the presence of allergenic substances in foodstuffs, including for foodstuffs sold without packaging and meals served in restaurants.

The Member States may also adopt additional mandatory information requirements for specific categories of foodstuffs, in order to protect public health and safety and industrial and commercial property. The information envisaged must be notified as a proposal to the Commission, who may give a negative opinion.

Codecision procedure (2008/0028/COD)


On 10 November 1993 the Commission adopted an interpretative communication concerning the use of languages in the marketing of foodstuffs in the light of the Court of Justice's judgment in the Peeters case [COM(93) 532 final – Official Journal C 345 of 23.12.1993]. In this communication the Commission points out that the labelling of foodstuffs for sale to the final consumer must be in an easily understood language, which generally means the official language(s) of the country of marketing. However, foreign terms or expressions easily understood by the purchaser must be allowed.

See also

Last updated: 16.11.2010