The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code (Agvet Code), scheduled to the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994, stipulates that, for a label for a container for a chemical product to meet the labelling criteria and be approved, the label must contain adequate instructions relating to specified matters (as are appropriate), including any matters prescribed by the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Regulations 1995 (Agvet Code Regulations).
Among other things, a label must comply with the requirements of the Labelling Standard or, if there is no Labelling Standard, the Agricultural or Veterinary Labelling Codes made by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), as in force from time to time.
The Veterinary Labelling Code (VLC) is presented as a series of labelling requirements that cover the label content, presentation and layout of the approved and marketed labels. This ‘Label presentation and layout’ page explains the legal requirements and additional guidance on how approved and marketed labels are to be structured and presented.
For general and specific content requirements of veterinary chemical product labels, refer to the label content of veterinary products.
Where the term 'must' is used in the VLC, it is a legal requirement that labels comply with this provision or as determined by the APVMA.
Where the term ‘should’ is used in the VLC, the APVMA expects to see the layout and placement of the label information based on best practice.
Where the term ‘may’ or ‘could’ is used in the VLC, it is strongly advisable, but not compulsory.
The following sections, which can be selected from the drop-down menu below, set out the requirements of the VLC and provide guidance on:
- what information is required on labels and what should be avoided (if it is not stated in the label content section)
- label layout
- printing and legibility requirements.
Each section provides a table of contents and you can click each heading to expand or collapse the content.
Mandatory statements, or examples of specific wording, are presented in grey boxes throughout some of the sections. These statements should follow the typeface formatting of the example shown in the grey boxes. More information about typeface and formatting requirements is available in the Printing and legibility requirements section.
The label instructions required by the APVMA, and any other information relevant to the handling or use of the chemical product contained on a label, must be legible to the average person using their normal reading aids (for example, glasses) if required, in good natural light conditions (320 lux). If the product is primarily for use indoors (for example, household products), the label must be legible using incandescent lighting of the type used in the average household (160 lux).
Any words required on labels must be printed on the outside face of the label or container and be in English.
When printed for attachment to containers of agricultural and veterinary chemical products registered under the Agvet Code, labels must adhere to requirements for the:
- attachment method
- print size and style
- print quality
3.1. Attachment method
Every label for a product must be printed on, or securely attached to, the outside of the container or pack of the product. Leaflets or booklets that are not placed inside the carton should be attached to the container in plastic pockets or other suitable secure holding methods. The minimum mandatory information that is required can be found in section 2.1. Primary pack – main panel (Table 2.2) and section 2.2. Primary pack – ancillary panels (Table 2.3 reduced labels).
3.2. Print size and style
A minimum print size of 2 mm or greater should be used unless label space is limited. Larger print sizes are more readable by users and other persons dealing with the chemical. This facilitates the clear communication of warnings and instructions and contributes to the safe handling and use of the chemical.
If label space is limited (for example, on very small immediate containers), a minimum letter height of 1.5 mm (6 point type) may be used on the ancillary panel. This means that letters:
- with ascenders or descenders, such as b, f, g, h, l, t, are to be a minimum of 1.5 mm in height
- without ascenders or descenders, such as a, e, i, o, u, m, r, are to be a minimum of 1 mm in height.
This minimum print size should only be used on the ancillary panel where space is limited.
Typefaces chosen for labels need to be clear and simple. Complicated or decorative fonts can be difficult to read and should be avoided. Bodies of text should not be in all capitals or italics unless specifically required. Closely-spaced, condensed or widely-spaced lettering should be avoided. Bold text can be used for emphasis, in addition to where it is required. Where bold text is used, registration holders must ensure the type does not become so thick that it reduces the white spaces within characters.
3.4. Print quality
Printing must be clear and crisp, and free from blurring or other distortion. Printing must be sufficiently durable so as not to fade, run, smudge or otherwise lose legibility during reasonable handling and storage for at least the stated shelf life of the products.
The colour of the printed letters must be distinctly contrasted to the background colours – use light-coloured text on dark background and dark text on a light background. Well-contrasted colours with widely differing hues and an appreciable difference in value should be used; avoid using strongly saturated colour pairs for text and background.
There must be a luminance contrast of at least 30% between letters and background (Australian Standard AS1428.1:2021, particularly Appendix D, provides further details on luminance contrast).
Text printed directly over pictorial or multi-coloured backgrounds may be difficult to read and should be avoided. A plain screen, preferably white, may be used beneath the letters to improve legibility in these situations.
Colour blindness affects a significant number of people in the community – between 5% to 10% of males and around 0.5% of females – who may have difficulty with the colours green, yellow, orange and red. This should be taken into account when choosing label colours for critical information. In particular, avoid red print on a green background or the reverse. Do not use red, green, brown, grey and purple next to each other or on top of each other.