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Legal minimum for the font size of ingredients on packaging


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#1 Simon

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Posted 26 October 2008 - 08:58 AM

I gave my son a packet of sweets (love hearts) yesterday and they sent him into a hyperactive delirium. That sounds serious; he was ok, not ill or anything, just a bit crazy for a couple of hours. When I tried to read the ingredients on the packaging to see what might have caused this the text was so small I could not read it. I have ok eyes and would definitely have needed a magnifying glass to read them. I got me wondering is there a legal minimum for the font size of ingredients on packaging.

Does anyone know?

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#2 Charles.C

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 06:22 AM

Dear Simon,

I had a very quick IT look on this.

Amazingly, the current answer may be no EC specification, see this IMO fascinating document -

http://www.worldfood...ms/?pid=1004318

(anyone feel free to expand / amend the above info. )

Equally amazingly, the same comment also seems to apply to UK medicines -

http://www.mhra.gov....n/con007554.pdf

BTW, I also learnt a new word from second link - "posology" . sounds very political. :smile:

Rgds / Charles.C


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#3 Simon

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Posted 27 October 2008 - 09:18 PM

Very strange Charles. I couldn't find anything here either: Understanding labelling rules

Really does surprise me. All of the stuff has to be on the label, but it doesn't matter if the consumer can read it or not. It can't be right. We must be missing something. :dunno:


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#4 Cathy

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 12:00 AM

For USDA products, for the ingredient statement there is no minimum font size but it is stated that it must be 'legilbe' . I am not as familiar with FDA items and their labels. I suspect 'legible' is not defined....perhaps in your case it was legilbe...with a micriscope!


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#5 Jarve

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 03:28 PM

As the information is to be found in the FSA "best practise guide to food labelling" pages 31- 42, this would suggest that font size is not specified in law but suggested in "best practise" guides.

On that note how many people note the aspartame warning on chewing gum wrappers? "contains a source of Phenylalanine" which is legislated.


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#6 Simon

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Posted 29 October 2008 - 08:42 PM

For USDA products, for the ingredient statement there is no minimum font size but it is stated that it must be 'legilbe' . I am not as familiar with FDA items and their labels. I suspect 'legible' is not defined....perhaps in your case it was legilbe...with a micriscope!

Legible to who? It's a it airy fairy as we say over here. :smile:

As the information is to be found in the FSA "best practise guide to food labelling" pages 31- 42, this would suggest that font size is not specified in law but suggested in "best practise" guides.

Jarve,

Do you have a link to the FSA - best practise guide to food labelling?

Thanks,
Simon
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#7 Charles.C

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 09:04 AM

Dear All,

Interesting topic IMO.

Actually the USA seems to hv a minimum limit, 1 sixteenth inch –

http://www.foodnavig...s-and-obstacles

and Canada also, 1.6mm ( = 1/16 in I think, surprise, surprise !)

http://www.lcbotrade...equirements.pdf.

No doubt there are others, possibly nationally in the EC also, for very good reasons one would think. Perhaps this is a consequence of the digital revolution :angry:

1.6 mm doesn't "sound" very much either ?, what was yr example size Simon ?

Rgds / Charles.C


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#8 a_andhika

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 12:52 PM

Dear Simon,

So sorry to hear that, I hope your son is okay.

Humm, another interesting problem from labelling. But I have another question, why it has to be made so small? Because the limited size of packaging? Even the size of primary pack is so small, IMO the manufacturer should write any important info with clearly, either on the secondary or tertiary pack, which able to read by the intended costumer.

But I am still wondering.. if the font size is mandatory and has a strict regulation, then it also directly affect the packaging size, is it practicable? If the products is harmful for some persons (allergens), then it should has particular font size. If it doesnt, does it has to follow the regulatory too? Highly speculative, I guess this is why the font size hasnt has any mandatory regulation (yet).


Regards,


Arya


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#9 Theo

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 02:40 PM

Hello all,

I checked up Codex [which should have the final say I blve] and what I saw was interesting. THe Codex General Standard for Pre-Packaged Foods [Codex Stan 1-1985] says "Statements required to appear on the label by virtue of this standard[]shall be clear, prominent, indelible and eadily legible by the consumer under normal conditions of purchase and use"

As you will agree with me this statemnent can be intepretated in several ways depending on how it suits the consumer or the manufacturer. i.e. what is easily legible for me might not be so for my pops [who is over 70].

Also how do you define "normal conditions of purchase and use" i.e. what might be a normal condition of purchase for me in West Africa might not be a normal condition of purchase to Simon in the UK and vice versa. So I think the scenario we have now is everyone clamouring for the right and corect info to be given on the package but how its given is left to the manufacturer which I would say defeats the whole purpose of labelling in the first place.

THEO

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#10 Simon

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 09:52 PM

Thanks everyone for your replies.

1.6 mm doesn't "sound" very much either ?, what was yr example size Simon ?

Not sure Charles but I think it was much smaller than 1.6 mm, perhaps half that. As Arya says the size of font depends on the pack size, so I suppose it is difficult to regulate. The sweet packet was small, but the ingredients could have been much bigger.

By the way thank for the document Theo.

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Simon
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#11 redchariot

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 07:11 PM

There is new proposed legislation by the EU which if implemented will set a minimum print size of 3mm. However, the retailers and food manufacturers are in general against this new proposal as with all the info required on packaging, this will not be feasible in many cases particularly in small packs like chewing gum


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#12 Simon

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 08:48 PM

There is new proposed legislation by the EU which if implemented will set a minimum print size of 3mm. However, the retailers and food manufacturers are in general against this new proposal as with all the info required on packaging, this will not be feasible in many cases particularly in small packs like chewing gum

Thanks for update Redchariot. Maybe 3mm is not practicle in every case but I am sure it is perfectly possible for many products. Do you know where the proposed legislation is up to and where we can keep up to date with proceedings?

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Simon
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