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. Most fruit and vegetables have 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 with the food (shelf edge etc).

The true name of the food

Food products must have a name indicated that adequately describes them.

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Food or ingredients that have been irradiated must be declared and labelled 'irradiated' or 'treated with ionising radiation'.

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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. The Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (HMI) is responsible for the enforcement of these requirements. More information on traders' legal obligations can be found on the GOV.UK website.

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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.)

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Waxed fruit & other treatments

Fruit that has been waxed must be labelled as such. Any other treatment or process that a product has been subjected to must also be given - for example, beetroot that has been dipped in vinegar or cooked should be labelled as such.

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Cut, peeled or similarly treated prepacked fruit & vegetables

These are required to bear a list of ingredients unless the product is made up of a single ingredient. Some prepared salads, dried fruit and peeled potatoes are treated with preservative solution to keep them fresh; this, and anything else that has been added, must be declared as an ingredient.

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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. For further information on allergen labelling see 'Food allergens & intolerance'.

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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.

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Weights & measures

For information regarding weighing and measuring requirements for products sold loose and/or prepacked, please see 'Weights & measures for greengrocers'.

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Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment. For more information please see 'Trading standards: powers, enforcement & penalties'.

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Key legislation

EU Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 on food additives

Marketing of Fresh Horticultural Produce Regulations 2009

EU Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers

Food Additives, Flavourings, Enzymes and Extraction Solvents (England) Regulations 2013

Food Information Regulations 2014


Last reviewed / updated: July 2019

Please note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab.

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Consumer enquiries from England, Scotland and Wales are handled by the Citizens Advice Consumer Service who can be contacted by telephone on 03454 04 05 06. Consumer enquiries in Northern Ireland are handled by ConsumerLine who can be contacted by telephone on 0300 1236262. Call charges may vary.

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Business enquiries are dealt with by your local council. Use the Chartered Trading Standards Institute's postcode finder to locate your local trading standards team.

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