In the guide
Note: although the United Kingdom has left the European Union, certain pieces of legislation (formally known as 'retained EU law') will still apply until such time as they are replaced by new UK legislation; this means that you will still see references to EU regulations in our guidance.
This guidance is for England and Wales
This guidance relates to food that is prepacked for direct sale, food that is loose, and food that is packaged at the request of the consumer. This is collectively referred to as non-prepacked food.
The Food Information Regulations 2014 place minimal labelling requirements on non-prepacked foods.
The law on allergen labelling will be changing in October 2021 (informally known as 'Natasha's law'). For more information please see 'Prepacked for direct sale and other non-prepacked foods - from 1 October 2021' and the FSA guidance on the new requirements.
'Prepacked for direct sale' means food sold from the premises on which it was packed or from a mobile stall or vehicle used by the business who packed the food - for example, sandwiches that are packaged in the shop from which they will be sold.
If packaged food is purchased by a separate business for later sale to the final consumer, the food will be considered prepacked.
'Prepacked food' is defined in Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers as "… food and the packaging into which it was put before being offered for sale, whether such packaging encloses the food completely or only partially, but in any event in such a way that the contents cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging …".
Prepacked labelling requirements are significantly more complex. Further information can be found in 'Labelling of prepacked foods: general'.
'Loose' means food that is sold or displayed without packaging - for example, ice cream displayed in a freezer and served into a tub.
'Food that is packaged at the request of the consumer' means food that is sold or displayed without packaging but is placed in packaging after purchase - for example, a joint of ham displayed loose on a deli counter, slices of which are cut and placed into sealed bags when a consumer makes a purchase.Back to top
Non-prepacked food will need to be labelled with the following:
- the name of the food
- the allergens present in the food
- in the case of a meat product, a meat content declaration (see below)
- in the case of irradiated food, an irradiated food statement (see below)
While non-prepacked foods have far fewer labelling requirements than prepacked foods, any information that must appear follows identical rules as when it appears on a prepacked product.
Full details for the name of the food can be found in 'Labelling of prepacked foods: product name'.
Full details for allergens present in the food can be found in 'Food allergens and intolerance'.Back to top
A meat product is any product that contains meat as an ingredient.
You are required to declare how much of the product is made of meat in the form of a percentage; this is referred to as a quantitative ingredient declaration (QUID).
Full details for QUID can be found in 'Labelling of prepacked foods: QUID'.
In the case of products that do not have an ingredients list the QUID should be presented as a statement specifying the type and amount of meat - for example, 'X% meat'.
Where more than one type of meat has been used you must declare the content of each - for example, 'X% chicken, X% pork'.
The QUID can alternatively be given in the name of the product - for example, 'Sausage roll (20% pork)'.
There are compositional requirements that some meat products must comply with; full details can be found in 'Composition of meat products'.Back to top
Irradiated food statement
If the food (or any ingredient in the food) has been irradiated, the words 'irradiated' or 'treated with ionising radiation' must appear in close proximity to the name of the food.Back to top
How to label
On the product. If possible, the information can be presented on a label that is on the packaging, attached to the packaging, or visible through the packaging.
On a notice. The information can appear on a notice in close proximity to the product or on the shelf edge.
Verbally. In the case of allergen information only, you can give the customer the information verbally. You must place a notice in close proximity to the product (or on the product itself) inviting customers to ask a member of staff for allergen information - for example, 'Please ask us about allergens in our food'.Back to top
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 and penalties'.Back to top
Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers
Last reviewed / updated: March 2021
In this update
No major changes