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 guide covers the labelling of sweets sold in any of the following situations:
- loose or unwrapped
- pick 'n' mix
- placed into packaging at the request of the customer
- prepacked and sold from the same premises, or from a mobile stall or vehicle used by the business (prepacked for direct sale)
Prepacked means food that is completely or partially enclosed in packaging and which be removed from it without changing the packaging in some way.
This guide does not cover products prepacked by you for sale from another premises, nor does it cover products prepacked by another packer and sold by you. These products require full labelling; as such, they are covered by 'Labelling of prepacked foods: general'.
Unless prepacked, sweets need only be labelled with a name and any allergens that are present.
When sold to consumers, the information must be on a label attached to the food or on a label or notice in close proximity that can easily be seen and read by the purchaser (on the shelf edge, for example).
Care must be taken when using the descriptions 'flavour' or 'flavoured' as they have different meanings.
In addition to this, there are specific requirements concerning the composition of chocolate.
What labelling is required?
The legal name of the sweets must be given, and under normal circumstances this is the name that describes the true nature of the food. For example, a product marketed as 'Wiggly Worms' would need the descriptive name of the food on the label for clarification, such as 'Fruit flavour jelly sweets'. The name 'Wiggly Worms' is a 'fancy name' and has no legal standing.
Sometimes a 'customary name' may be used instead of a descriptive name. A customary name is a name that is readily understood by UK consumers without further clarification and allows the sweet to be clearly distinguished from other similar types of sweet - for example, humbugs, black jacks, etc.
See 'Labelling of prepacked foods: product name' for more information. Please note that the rules for the name of the food will be the same regardless of how the product is sold (prepacked, loose, etc).
If the sweets contain any of the following types of allergen then this must be declared:
- cereals containing gluten, such as wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut, and their hybridised strains
- peanuts (also called groundnuts)
- nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios, macadamias and Queensland nuts
- sesame seeds
- milk and milk products (including lactose)
- soy beans
- sulphur dioxide and sulphites at levels above 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/litre expressed as SO2
How must the information be given?
When sold to the consumer the required information must be marked on either:
- a label attached to the food
- a label, ticket or notice that can easily be seen and read by the purchaser at the place where they choose the food
Additionally, allergen information can be given verbally; if so, a notice must be prominently displayed instructing the customer to request allergen information from a member of staff. See 'Food allergens and intolerance' for more information.
Sweets sold loose from boxes or jars will usually have been marked with this information by the manufacturer. This is sufficient, provided it can be easily read from the customer's side of the counter.
The responsibility for labelling rests with the retailer but your supplier has to provide you with all the information necessary for you to comply with your legal obligations. Certain information must be marked on transport packaging while other information may appear on documents that accompany the food.Back to top
Flavour / flavoured
The words 'flavour' and 'flavoured' have different meanings.
Flavour means that the food tastes of something but does not contain it, while flavoured means that the food contains the specified ingredient - for example, a strawberry flavoured sweet would contain strawberry, while a strawberry flavour sweet would not.Back to top
Particular care must be taken when describing products as 'chocolate' or as containing chocolate. If the product has only the flavour of chocolate and is not made from chocolate then it must be made clear in the name - for example 'Chocolate Flavour Easter Egg', and 'Peanuts with Chocolate Flavour Coating'.
The word 'choc' must only be used with products that contain chocolate.
The Cocoa and Chocolate Products (England) Regulations 2003 and the Cocoa and Chocolate Products (Wales) Regulations 2003 specify compositional and labelling requirements that must be complied with in order to describe a product as 'chocolate'; if you require advice please contact your local trading standards service.Back to top
For more information on the work of trading standards services - and the possible consequences of not abiding by the law - please see 'Trading standards: powers, enforcement and penalties'.Back to top
Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 on food additives
Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers
Regulation (EU) No 232/2012 amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 as regards the conditions of use and the use levels for Quinoline Yellow (E 104), Sunset Yellow FCF / Orange Yellow S (E 110) and Ponceau 4R, Cochineal Red A (E 124)
Last reviewed / updated: August 2021
In this update
References added to food that is 'prepacked for direct sale'