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Food additive labelling

Food additives in most packaged food must be listed in the statement of ingredients on the label.

Most food additives must be listed by their class name followed by the name of the food additive or the food additive number, for example, Colour (Caramel I) or Colour (150a). Enzymes and most flavourings (or flavour) do not need to be named or identified by a food additive number and can be labelled by their class name only.

The class name indicates what the food additive does (i.e. its purpose). Read a list of the most common class names of food additives.

Food additive numbers (based on an internationally-accepted numbering system) can be used as an alternative to names which can be long and confusing.

The lists below can help you identify food additives as you shop:


Some foods are not required to be labelled with a statement of ingredients, for example, unpackaged food, food contained in a small package (such as a package with a surface area of less than 100 cm2). Food additives in these foods are therefore also not required to be labelled.

Sometimes compound ingredients are used in a food. A compound ingredient is an ingredient made up of two or more ingredients, for example, tomato paste containing tomato, olive oil, dried herbs, sugar, salt, and a preservative which is incorporated into a meat casserole.

The ingredients (including food additives) of a compound ingredient don't have to be listed if the compound ingredient makes up less than 5% of the final food. However, if additives in the compound ingredient perform a purpose in the final food, they have to be declared in the statement of ingredients.

Food additives and allergies

Certain food allergens must be declared at all times when present in food as an ingredient, including food additives. Read more about allergen labelling.

Page last updated 6 December 2023