In the guide
This guidance is for England
Sandwiches sold by catering establishments need to be labelled with an indication of any irradiated or genetically modified ingredients, and any name given must be accurate. Allergen information should also be provided or a notice displayed stating that this information is available on request. The same requirements apply when sandwiches are made on the premises to be sold loose or prepacked at those same premises to be consumed later (from a bakery shop, for example).
Prepacked sandwiches not made on the premises need full labelling, including name, ingredients, additives, percentage indication of certain ingredients (QUID - quantitative ingredient declaration), date mark, storage conditions, name and address of the manufacturer, and country of origin.
There are also 14 specific allergens whose presence must be highlighted in the ingredients list.
The term 'sandwich' includes a roll, bap, baguette, pitta, wrap, panini, bagel and similar products.
These are premises at which the sandwiches are prepared for consumption at the time of purchase; they include pubs, restaurants, cafés, stalls, vans and sandwich bars.
Provided that no claims are made, no labelling at all is required on these sandwiches unless:
- the sandwich or any ingredient has been irradiated
- the sandwich contains any ingredient that contains genetically modified material
In these cases the sandwich must be appropriately labelled to the effect that it has been irradiated or treated with ionising radiation and/or that it contains genetically modified material.
Many caterers will want to give a name / description and it is important that this is not misleading. Areas that can cause problems are:
- butter / margarine
- ham / pork shoulder
- reformed or chopped and shaped meats
- seafood / crab 'sticks'
- cheese substitutes
A notice can be displayed indicating that allergen information is available verbally on request, or the information can be made available in written formats.
If prepacked sandwiches are brought in from another supplier, full labelling, as described below, must be given.Back to top
Sandwiches sold loose or prepacked for direct sale
This means sandwiches sold loose or prepacked and made on the premises for sale at those same premises - for example, bakery shops or delicatessens that make up their own sandwiches to sell. These are required to have limited labelling, as follows:
- a name or description
- a declaration (if relevant) that the sandwich or ingredients have been irradiated and/or contain genetically modified material
- an indication of any of the 14 specified allergens that the sandwich may contain, or a notice stating that this information is available on request
As for catering establishments, care must be taken with the description of the sandwich to ensure that it is not misleading.
If prepacked sandwiches are brought in from another supplier full labelling, as described below, must be given.Back to top
This includes manufacturers that prepare prepacked sandwiches and supply a number of other retail and catering outlets.
Prepacked sandwiches of these types will require full labelling as follows:
- a name or description (again, care must be taken with the description of the sandwich to ensure that it is not misleading)
- a list of ingredients, in descending order by weight
- if your product contains any additives (such as colours or preservatives) each name or 'E' number must be preceded by the category name of the additive in the ingredients list
- a percentage declaration (QUID) (for named characterising ingredients that might affect consumer choice - for example, ham sandwich, ham 10%)
- a date mark (durability indication, which for sandwiches and similar products will be a use-by date) and perhaps a lot mark. See 'Date & lot marking of prepacked food' for more information
- storage conditions - for example, 'Keep refrigerated'
- name and address of the responsible food business operator
- origin (if omitting it might be misleading)
- a nutrition information declaration consisting of the energy value and the amounts of fat, saturates, carbohydrate, sugars and protein*
[*There is an exemption from this requirement for manufacturers of small quantities that supply direct to the final consumer and local retail establishments that supply direct to the final consumer. 'Manufacturers of small quantities' means those with fewer than 10 employees and a turnover / balance sheet total of less than €2m (£1.4m). 'Local retail establishments' must be within the supplying manufacturer's own county plus either the neighbouring county / counties or 30 miles (approximately 50km) from the boundary of the manufacturer's own county, whichever is the greater.]
Allergenic ingredients (listed below) and their derivatives (for example, soy sauce from soya beans) must be highlighted in the ingredients list. This only applies to those ingredients specified in the legislation, namely:
- 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 10mg/kg or 10mg/litre expressed as SO2
Please also see 'Food allergens & intolerance' for more information.
Also, if applicable:
- an irradiation declaration
- a genetically-modified-material declaration
- a packaged-in-a-protective-atmosphere declaration
- specific declarations if sweeteners, sugars and sweeteners, aspartame, or polyols are present
There are additional labelling requirements if any other claims are made.
Please note that in general van sales, where product is sold from the van, full labelling will not be required, but you are advised to discuss the precise supply route with your local trading standards service.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 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: July 2017