In the guide
This guidance is for England
Fruit and vegetables on sale at greengrocers should be marked with the true name of the food. Any foods that have been irradiated should be marked as such. Most fruit and vegetables are required by European Union (EU) grading legislation to be labelled with their class and may also need labelling with country of origin and variety.
Care should be taken with any other descriptions to ensure they are correct - 'organic' for example. There are other requirements in relation to pricing and weight marking of the products.
Required labelling should be on a notice, on the food, that is clear and conspicuous to customers.
The true name of the food
Food products must have a name indicated that adequately describes them.Back to top
Food or ingredients that have been irradiated must be declared and labelled 'irradiated' or 'treated with ionising radiation'.Back to top
EU marketing rules & grading requirements
Most fruit and vegetables are required by EU grading legislation to be labelled with their class and may also need labelling with country of origin and variety. Defra horticulture inspectors are responsible for the enforcement of these requirements. More information on traders' legal obligations can be found on the GOV.UK website.Back to top
Country of origin or place of provenance
The country of origin or place of provenance should be marked if failure to do so would be misleading. (This place of provenance is a more local description than country of origin - for example, English strawberries or Tasmanian apples.)Back to top
Fruit that has been waxed must be labelled as such.Back to top
Prepacked fruit or vegetables that have been cut, peeled or similarly treated
These are required to bear a list of ingredients. For example, some prepared salads, dried fruit and peeled potatoes are treated with preservative solution to keep them fresh; this must be declared as an ingredient.
Additional requirements are in place for the following colourings:
- E102 - Tartrazine
- E104 - Quinoline Yellow
- E110 - Sunset Yellow
- E122 - Carmoisine
- E124 - Ponceau 4R
- E129 - Allura Red
These six colours have been subject to a request for voluntary withdrawal in the UK by the Food Standards Agency. Under EU law products containing these colours must be labelled with the following information: '[name or E number of the colour(s)]: may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children'. For more information on the additional information required if using these six colours, please see the guidance on the Food Standards Agency website.Back to top
If sulphur dioxide or sulphites have been used as a preservative, they must be highlighted in the ingredients list in order to comply with allergen-labelling requirements.Back to top
Organic fruit and vegetables can only come from producers, importers or processors that have been inspected and approved by a body authorised by the government. Food from any other source is not 'organic' and to describe it as such is an offence. See 'Labelling & describing organic food' for further information.Back to top
Beetroot that has been dipped in vinegar should be labelled as such.Back to top
Failure to comply may result in an improvement notice being issued, requiring compliance to be achieved. If the improvement notice is not complied with it is an offence under the Food Safety Act 1990. The maximum penalty is a fine and two years' imprisonment.
If allergen information does not comply with the requirements it is an offence under the Food Information Regulations 2014. The maximum penalty is a fine.Back to top
EU Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 on food additives
EU Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers
Last reviewed / updated: December 2016