This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law. Please note some of the advice we provide to businesses is chargeable.
Foods sold in catering establishments such as restaurants, cafes and canteens, clubs, public houses, schools or hospitals, ready for consumption on the premises or take-away.
Food descriptions are controlled by the Food Safety Act 1990 and The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Any information provided must not falsely describe the food, or be likely to mislead as to the nature, substance or quality of the food being served. This applies whether the description is written on a menu, chalkboard or other advertising material, or where it is spoken - perhaps in answer to a customer's question.
If an item is taken off of the menu for some reason, the description of that food must be removed as soon as is reasonably practicable. If the food in question is only available for a limited period of the day (for example, at breakfast time only) the description should be removed before the start of the next similar period, i.e. before breakfast the following day.
Descriptions on menus and notices should give an accurate indication of the true nature of the food. For example:-
Care must be taken with drink brand names. If you cannot be certain that you will always have a particular brand in stock, you may wish to describe spirits as rum/vodka/whisky/brandy, and not by specific brand. If you supply a different brand to that advertised on your menu, or what the customer requests, or what is shown on a plaque attached to the optic, you may commit a criminal offence.
Trading standards services regularly check spirits for watering down and substitution. These are serious matters which often lead to prosecution. It is not wise to 'top up' bottles of spirits, as this practice could lead to the mixing of different brands which may be treated as a criminal matter.
"produced from genetically modified maize/soya". Alternatively a general notice, clearly displayed at the point of food selection, may state words to the effect that some of the food contains genetically modified material and that further information is available from staff. In these circumstances the staff must be suitably trained AND readily accessible information must be available to enable them to advise customers.
If the food contains an ingredient that has been irradiated the food needs to be labelled that it contains that ingredient and be accompanied by the word "irradiated" or "treated with ionising radiation.
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 control how prices must be made known to consumers before they complete any purchase and require that prices given should not be misleading. The full price that the customer will have to pay for food and drink items should be available to the consumer in advance of them making their choice and ordering the product.
The usual way to communicate this information is by a price list, placed near the bar, that provides consumers with the information they need to enable them to purchase drinks in that it gives the details of what drinks are available and the price.
The indicated price must be inclusive of VAT and must also show any service charge, cover charge, or minimum charge that might apply. This information should be displayed at least as prominently as the price of the food. Guidance on pricing for businesses has been produced by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). These guidance notes state that 'suggested optional sums' such as service charges, should not be presented to the customer on their bill. The guidance also says that if a non-optional charge is to be made, such as service or cover charge, then this should be incorporated into 'fully inclusive prices' where possible, and in all cases this should be clearly advertised on the menu or price list.
Many alcoholic drinks must be sold in specified quantities where the drink is to be consumed on the premises.
Wine must be sold in the following quantities:
The quantities of wine that are sold must be clearly indicated on a price list, notice, or menu.
Beer, lager and cider (except when mixed with another drink) can only be sold from draught in these quantities:
To ensure that the quantity given is accurate, beer, lager and cider must either be dispensed into a glass stamped with a crown mark or dispensed by a stamped meter.
Gin, rum, whisky vodka and (from October 2010) brandy (except when sold in cocktails of three or more drinks) must only be sold in the following quantities:
In addition, a notice which is easy to read must make it clear which quantity applies. The same quantity must be used throughout all separate bars in restaurants, bars and clubs.
The Companies Act 2006 provides that:
Companies must display their registered name at their registered office and at any location where they carry on business, (unless the location is primarily used for living accommodation). This includes websites. The name must also be included on all business stationery including electronic communications. In addition business order forms, letters and websites must include the place of registration, the registered number and the registered office address.
Sole Trader businesses and partnerships are required to display, on all business letters, written orders for goods or services, invoices and receipts, and written demands for payment of business debts, the following information:
It is an offence to display misleading or incorrect information. The responsibility for labelling rests with you and it is no excuse to say 'I didn't know'. The name or description should be the same that is used by your supplier, with whom you should check if you are in any doubt.
Animal Health Team
Telephone: 01962 833621
Hampshire County Council
Trading Standards Service
Winchester SO22 5PW
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Reviewed November 2010
B/foo/132/002 April 2010