Important information to consider
The design of a label and the quality of the paper or other
materials that are used is of critical importance in promoting
the product. In general a simple, uncluttered image on the
label is better than a complex design. The brand name or the
name of the company should stand out clearly and if pictures
are used, they should be an accurate representation of the
product or its main raw material.
Colour can be used to produce either a realistic picture (full
colour printing) or blocks of one or two bold colours to
emphasise a particular feature. Care is needed when
choosing colours as they are culturally very significant and
have a direct effect on peoples' perceptions of the product.
For example, in many societies white is associated with
death, whereas in others, it is red or black. In some areas,
browns, ochre and greens are associated with 'nature' or
natural unprocessed products, with an image of health and
good quality. In others, bright oranges and yellows can either
mean excitement or cheap, low quality products.
Figure 5: Details of when the
fruit was produced and use
by date are written on the
In view of the importance of labels, producers should pay the
highest price that they can afford to obtain the best possible
back of the packaging.
Photo: Practical Action / Zul.
quality. Professional designers or graphic artists may be
located at universities, art schools or in commercial agencies
and these should be employed to produce a range of ideas.
These can then be discussed with the Bureau of Standards
and then a printer to obtain quotations before a final decision is made. Most printers require a
print run of several thousand labels and great care should be taken to check the design for errors
before printing, as these would be very costly and time consuming to correct during production.
Legal aspects of food labelling
In some countries, food producers can be prosecuted if their label is incorrectly designed. It is in
the processors' interest to involve the local Bureau of Standards at an early stage of label design
to ensure that the label meets all local requirements.
There are general labelling requirements that describe the information that must be included on a
label, but in many countries there are also very detailed laws concerning some or all of the
• specific names that must be given to different types of ingredients
• ingredients that are exempt from the law
• the use of words such as Best before and Sell by
• the declaration of alcohol content in spirit drinks
• locations of the name of the food, the sell-by date and the net weight (they must all be in
the same field of vision when a customer looks at the label)
• the visibility of information and the ability of customers to understand it (including the
relative print sizes of different information)
• claims and misleading descriptions, especially about health-giving or tonic properties,
nutritional advantages, diabetic or other medicinal claims
• specifications of the way in which certain words such as flavour, fresh, vitamin etc. can
This is a complex area, which varies from one country to another. Professional advice should be
sought from the local Bureau of Standards to ensure that local standards and regulations are met.