Ever found yourself staring at food packaging looking at all those little symbols that look like they’ve been left by aliens as clues to the universe, life and everything? Well, the good news is that you’re not alone!

These markings are mysterious, but luckily they aren’t undecipherable. At Charlotte Packaging we’ve taken a little bit of effort to give you a complete understanding of food packaging symbols!

Food Packaging Symbols Explained



This symbol is often used on containers, such as Tupperware, to show that the product is suitable for food use. It may or may not have the word “food” below the cup and fork.





Recycling – this logo is used internationally to show that the product can be recycled. This is not an indication that the packaging has been made from recycled material.

If you see a number in the middle of this image, that is to indicate the percentage of recycled material that makes up that product.






Plastic recycling – another widely used symbol to show that the plastic used in the packaging can be recycled. The PET refers to Polythene Terephthalate which is commonly used in this application. The number inside (1 – 7 ) defines the resin used in making the packaging.






Keep Britain Tidy – this symbol is included to remind consumers to dispose of their waste in an appropriate manner. It does not necessarily relate to the type of packaging used, but is rather a campaign against littering.







Sustainable Forestry Initiative – this symbol or similar tree logo shows that the materials used to create the packaging were harvested from sustainable forests.







Compostable – this symbol is a registered trademark of European Bioplastics and is used to show that the packaging is certified to be compostable. Only products that have met the EU standard EN 13432/14955 can use this logo.







Forest Stewardship Council – this logo may be used on any wood based packaging, more likely seen at the tertiary stage. The FSC logo shows that the wood used came from well managed forests that have been independently certified to the rules of the FSC







­­­Vegetarian – pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, the product in the food packaging is suitable for vegetarians. There is an alternative logo that uses a tick rather than leafs, although the meaning stays the same.







Gluten Free – this states that the product does not contain gluten or any other wheat extracts. This will typically be very clearly labelled on products that match this description.






Allergy Advice – often products that contain ingredients that are common allergies will include this symbol. One of the most common ones to see is this symbol with “may contain nuts” below it.







This is the symbol used to show that the food packaging is suitable for use in a microwave. An alternative symbol is the waves with the word “micro” included below. Always check to make sure this logo is present before trying to microwave it.




Freezing Symbol


Product suitable for freezing – if this image is seen on your food packaging, then you are able to freeze the entire product without having to remove the wrapping first.


Need Further Help?

Are there any other images that are confusing you or that you’re simply not sure about? Get in touch with Charlotte Packaging today and we’ll help you to make sense of all the food packaging symbols you could possibly use!


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