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15.10.2012

What foods can be labelled with the keyhole symbol?

Packed foods eligible to carry the keyhole symbol must fulfil certain conditions specified by the authorities in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Mann holder nøkkelhullsmerkede kjøttpålegg i hånden.

Foto: Helsedirektoratet

  • Mann holder nøkkelhullsmerkede kjøttpålegg i hånden.

    Foto: Helsedirektoratet

Fish and seafood, fruits, vegetables and potatoes can be labelled without packaging. These conditions - regarding how much fat, sugars, salt and dietary fibre may be present in foods with the keyhole symbol - are based on the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations, which are founded on scientific research.

Different conditions apply to different groups of foods. Anyone choosing a food product with the keyhole symbol knows that it is a healthier option than corresponding products that are not allowed to carry this symbol. For example, cheese with the keyhole symbol contains less fat and salt than cheese not qualified for the keyhole. Products with the keyhole have to be accompanied with nutritional facts.

Foods with the keyhole symbol

The keyhole is a voluntary label. Food producers are themselves responsible for ensuring that foods with the keyhole symbol conform to The Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Food Safety Authorit's regulations.  

Below is a list of examples of different products that may be labelled with the keyhole symbol. For further information on the regulations regarding different foods, see directive FOR-2009-06-17-665 via the link on the right of this page.

Dairy products

Dairy products with the keyhole symbol contain less fat, saturated fat, salt and sugars than corresponding products not labelled with the symbol. 

Examples of dairy products carrying the keyhole symbol:

  • skimmed milk, low fat milk or natural yoghurt (maximum 0.7% fat)
  • flavoured low fat yoghurt (maximum 0.7% fat and 9% sugars)
  • low fat alternatives to cream and crème fraiche (maximum 5% fat, 5% sugars and 0,1 g sodium)
  • fresh cheese, for example cottage cheese (maximum 5% fat and 0.35 g/100 g sodium)
  • other cheese, for example hard cheese and margarine cheese (maximum 17% fat and 0.5 g/100 g sodium)

Flavoured yoghurt that contains sweeteners cannot carry the keyhole.

Low fat spread, margarine and oils

Low fat spread/reduced fat margarine with the keyhole symbol may contain a limited amount of salt and a maximum of 41% fat. A maximum of one third of the fat may be saturated fat and products shall not contain more than 0.5 g sodium per 100 grams.

Oils and floating margarine eligible for the Keyhole may not contain more than 20% saturated fat of the total fat content. Products in this category must contain less than 0.5 g sodium per 100 grams.

Meat and processed meat products

Whole meat and minced meat with the keyhole symbol may contain maximum 10% fat. This limit also applies to processed meat products, with or without gravies, such as sausages, meatballs, hamburgers, cold cuts, liver paste and black pudding. Processed meat products may not contain more than 5% sugars. A maximum content of sodium shall be set at the next revision of the criteria.

Fish and shellfish

All types of fresh or frozen fish, both lean and oily, may carry the keyhole symbol. The reason is that fish contain beneficial fats that most people need to eat in greater amounts. Examples of lean fish are cod and haddock, while mackerel and salmon are oily fish. Unprocessed shellfish, such as prawns, mussels and crab can also be labelled.   

Processed fish and shellfish may contain maximum 10% fat and 5% sugars. A maximum content of sodium shall be set at the next revision of the criteria.

Vegetarian products

Vegetarian alternatives to milk, for example oat, soya and rice drinks, may contain maximum 1.5% fat and 5% sugars. A maximum of one third of the fat may be saturated fat. Products shall not contain sweeteners. Vegetarian alternatives to cream and crème fraiche may contain maximum 5% fat.

Meat, fish and shellfish substitutes that are made solely from vegetable products, for example soya or Quorn, may contain maximum 10% fat and 5 % sugars.

Bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, flour and wholemeal

Bread carrying the keyhole symbol must have higher fibre content than bread not eligible for the symbol, and may only contain less than 7% of fat and 5 % sugars. Bread may not contain more than 0.5 g sodium per 100 grams. Cereal products have to contain a certain amount of whole grain.

Pasta with the keyhole symbol must contain a certain amount of fibre and at least 50 % whole grain.

Breakfast cereals and muesli must contain a certain amount of fibre and whole grain, maximum 13% sugars, 7% fat and a limited amount of salt if they are to be labelled with the keyhole symbol.

Flour, flakes and wholemeal must contain a certain amount of fibre and whole grain. This also applies for porridge meal, porridge powder and gruel powder, which have additional restrictions on fat and salt content.

Ready meals

Ready meals, intended to constitute a main meal, labelled with the keyhole symbol must contain between 400 and 750 kcal per portion. Maximum 30% of the energy content may come from fat. The amount of sugars (maximum 3 grams per 100 grams) and salt (maximum 0.4 grams sodium per 100 grams) is also limited. Such meals must contain at least 25 grams of root vegetables (excl. potatoes), legumes and other vegetables and/or fruit per 100 grams.  

In pies (except dessert pies), pizzas, pirogi and soups with the keyhole symbol, maximum 30% of the energy content may come from fat and the amount of sugars (maximum 3 grams per 100 grams)   and salt (maximum 0.4 grams sodium per 100 grams) is limited. 

Sandwiches and wraps may contain maximum 3 g sugars/100 g and 0.4 g sodium/100 g. The cereal part has to have a certain content of whole grain. Products in this category must contain more vegetables (excl. potatoes), legumes and/or fruits and a maximum of 30 % of the energy content may come from fat.

Potatoes and vegetables

Potatoes, root vegetables, leguminous plants and other vegetables which have not undergone any form of processing; however, they may have been seasoned, blanched, dried, refrigerated, deep-frozen or defrosted. Processed products in this category must contain maximum 0.2 g sodium and 1 g sugars per 100 grams.

Fruits and berries

All types of fruit and berries that are fresh, chilled or frozen and that do not contain any added sugars are eligible to carry the keyhole symbol.