Key regulations

There are a number of key pieces of legislation which underpin the work we do.
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Food Standards Act 1999

The main purpose of the Food Standards Act 1999 is to establish us as the Food Standards Agency.

It is there to provide us with functions and powers and to transfer certain functions in relation to food safety and standards.

The Act was introduced in the House of Commons in 1999. 

It sets out our main goal to protect public health in relation to food. It gives us the power to act in the consumer's interest at any stage in the food production and supply chain. 

Food Standards Act 1999 legislation

General Food Law


Whether you work in a food business or you are a consumer interested in food law, there are general requirements which you need to be aware of.

This overview covers the main European Commission (EC) and domestic legislation on the following areas:

  • food imports and exports
  • safety
  • traceability
  • labelling
  • product withdrawals and recalls

General Food Law

Codes of Practice

Browse codes of practice for food and animal feed

Food Information Regulation

The EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on the 25 October 2011.

The Food Information Regulations 2014 came into force on the 14th July 2014 and enables local authorities to enforce the European Food Information to Consumers Regulation No 1169/2011. Under these regulations, a change to the existing enforcement regime has been taken forward with a move away from the across-the-board use of frontline criminal offences to a more proportionate and targeted regime using improvement notices.

A backstop criminal offence will be in place where there is failure to comply with an improvement notice, with an offender being liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 5. Criminal offences will continue for the contravention of certain provisions, namely mislabelling of foods containing allergens because a failure to comply with the allergen provisions may result in a risk to consumer health and safety.

The regulations also revoke the majority of the provisions of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996. The compositional standards for cream and traditional UK cheeses will be retained until 2018 as will certain alcohol related terms including ‘low alcohol’, ‘dealcoholised’ etc.

The regulations take up certain derogations and national flexibilities permitted by the FIC namely:

  • derogation from the need to give mandatory information for milk and milk products in glass bottles intended for reuse. Taking up this derogation maintains the current exemption.
  • derogation from minced meat composition standards on fat and collagen to meat protein ratios in the FIC. Taking up this derogation allows businesses to continue to supply the UK market with traditional minced meat provided it is sold under a national mark.
  • to retain the requirement for the name of the food to be given for foods sold non-prepacked.
  • to retain the requirement for a quantitative indication of the meat content for meat products sold non-prepacked.
  • to introduce the specific means by which allergen information provided on a mandatory basis for non-prepacked food has to be given.
  • update other food labelling and standards legislation to reflect the FIC Regulation and the introduction of the Food Information Regulations 2014.

Separate but similar regulations have also been made in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.