Hampshire Trading Standards

Food Labelling for Small Retailers

This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law.

What does this advice cover

The labelling of food which is:-

  • displayed for sale in a loose or unwrapped state;

  • sold from the same premises where it is packed;

  • packed by the retailer and sold from his market stall or vehicle.

This advice does not cover

  • bread and cakes;

  • meat products;

  • fish;

  • fruit and vegetables;

  • catering and take-away food;

  • food packaged by, or for, someone else.

See separate guidance notes on these subjects.


Required labelling

A clear and conspicuous notice that states:-

  • the name of the food

This must be one that is required by law, or a customary name. If neither of these apply, then the name must be sufficiently precise to inform a purchaser of the food's true nature and distinguishes it from products with which it could be confused.

(NOTE: A brand name or fancy name can still be used, provided it is not substituted for any of the above. Use the same name as your supplier if the food has not been changed in any way.)

In addition:-

  • If the food contains any of the following types of additives (antioxidant; flavour enhancer; sweetener; flavouring; colour; preservative), the types of additive(s).

  • If the food or ingredients have been irradiated they must be declared and labelled 'irradiated' or 'treated with ionising radiation'.

  • If the food contains genetically modified ingredients it must be labelled 'prepared from genetically modified "X"'.

  • If the food you have on sale has been previously dried, freeze dried, frozen, concentrated or smoked and the omission of this information could mislead, you must indicate this treatment on the label. (e.g. a thawed product should be labelled 'previously frozen'.)

  • If the food contains sweeteners, both sweeteners and sugar, aspartame, or polyols there are specific labelling declarations required, alongside the food name.

  • If you make any sort of claim for the food, such as, that it has extra vitamins or minerals, or that it is 'low' in some ingredient, or can help slimming, then extra information has to be given.

Some products have specific additional labelling requirements, for example:

  • Raw milk that has not been heat treated is required to be marked with a warning.

  • Jams and Marmalades may require a fruit and sugar content declaration.

  • Chocolate and Chocolate products may need a % cocoa solids declaration and milk chocolate requires a % milk solids declaration.

  • Baby food requires a statement of the minimum age of child for which it is suitable and a specific nutritional declaration.


Other labelling issues

  • There are guidelines to be followed when such words as natural are used.

  • There are restrictions on the use of descriptions such as 'organic'.

  • There are regulations concerning price marking.

  • There are regulations concerning the quantity and manner in which some products may be sold and some products may have to be packed in specific metric quantities.

When perishable food is sold to you, it must be marked with a 'use by' date, or a 'best before' date if it is not perishable. Whilst not a legal requirement, you may consider informing your customers of such dates when you are selling the food. If you're making the food yourself, you may consider putting such a date on it.

Before having labels printed contact your local trading standards office. We will advise you if your label requires amending before you incur printing costs.



Reviewed November 2010

B/foo/135/002 June 2006