Pictorial Representation - Background

The previous 1996 UK Food Labelling Regulations (SI 1996/1499), schedule 8, part 1 (which has been repealed by the UK Food Information Regulations 2014) stated that:

  • A pictorial representation of a food which is such as to imply that the food to which the representation is applied has the flavour of the food depicted in the representation.
  • Shall not be applied to any food unless the flavour of the food to which the representation is applied is derived wholly or mainly from the food depicted in the representation.

In addition the Food Standards Agency guidance notes on the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 stated:

63.2 Conditions are set out for the use of descriptions or pictorial representations on food labels which imply that a food has the flavour of the food named in the description. It should generally be taken that consumers will assume that the flavour of a food is obtained from the named food in the description, rather than a flavouring, unless the labelling makes clear that this is not the case.

63.4 It should be borne in mind that a pictorial representation of a food, implying that it has the flavour of that food, cannot be used unless the flavour comes wholly or mainly from the food in the picture. Even if the illustrated food cannot be tasted in the product as consumed, provided the flavour of the illustrated food comes wholly or mainly from that illustrated food (rather than, for example, an artificial flavouring), there is no reason why a picture of it should not appear on the product label.

63.5 A fruit drink containing orange, mango and passion fruit juices may illustrate all three fruits on the label, even if one or two flavours dominate, provided all three flavours come wholly or mainly from the fruits which are illustrated. In the same way, Indian tonic water with a twist of lemon would only be able to carry a picture of a lemon on it if the lemon flavour comes wholly or mainly from lemons.

63.6 Since the controls require that the flavour comes wholly or mainly from the illustrated food, this does not prevent the use of illustrations on product labels where the flavour has been mixed with small amounts of synthetic flavouring. In such a case, the flavour must still come wholly or mainly from the illustrated food.

Current Legislation

Article 7 of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers which entered into force in October 2011 and applied from 13 December 2014 states:

Fair information practices

1. Food information shall not be misleading, particularly: (a) as to the characteristics of the food and, in particular, as to its nature, identity, properties, composition, quantity, durability, country of origin or place of provenance, method of manufacture or production; …

(d) by suggesting, by means of the appearance, the description or pictorial representations, the presence of a particular food or an ingredient, while in reality a component naturally present or an ingredient normally used in that food has been substituted with a different component or a different ingredient.


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