In the guide

Although the United Kingdom has left the European Union (EU), 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

There are different labelling requirements depending on whether sandwiches are sold by mass caterers and/or sold non-prepacked, prepacked or prepacked for direct sale. Prepacked labelling requirements are significantly more complex.

The term 'sandwich' includes a roll, bap, baguette, pitta, wrap, panini, bagel and all similar products.

Mass caterers

These are premises at which the sandwiches are prepared at the time of purchase and ready for immediate consumption without any further preparation; they include pubs, restaurants, cafés, stalls, school canteens, vans and sandwich bars.

The following information is required:

  • the presence of any allergenic ingredients 
  • the presence of any irradiated or genetically modified ingredients 

The information does not have to be labelled on the product and can instead be placed on a notice. The notice should be visible / available at the point(s) where the consumer can place an order (at the counter, in the menu if food can be ordered at the table, etc).

Allergen information can be given verbally, in which case a notice must be placed on display inviting customers to ask a member of staff for allergen information.  

Full information on the provision of allergen information can be found in 'Food allergens and intolerance'. 

You are not required to name the product but any name or description given must be accurate; areas that can cause problems are:

  • butter / margarine
  • ham / pork shoulder
  • reformed or chopped and shaped meats
  • seafood / crab 'sticks'
  • cheese substitutes

If prepacked sandwiches are being sold from a mass caterer the requirements for prepacked products (below) will apply.

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Van sales

The rules for mass caterers also apply to van sales, although if you purchase prepacked sandwiches to sell from your van the normal prepacked rules will apply (see below).

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Non-prepacked sandwiches

Non-prepacked includes the following:

  • loose. Food sold or displayed without any form of packaging
  • packaged at the request of the consumer. Food sold or displayed without any form of packaging but placed into packaging after purchase (for example, a sandwich placed into a paper bag)

These products are prepared before the time of consumption.  

Non-prepacked food has the same labelling requirements regardless of whether it is being sold from a mass caterer, shop, stall, etc as follows:

  • the name of the product
  • a declaration that the sandwich or ingredients have been irradiated and/or contain genetically modified material (where relevant)
  • an indication of any of the 14 specified allergens that the sandwich contains, or a notice stating that this information is available on request

The information can be on a label attached to the product or on a notice.  

Further information can be found in 'Labelling of non-prepacked foods'.

If you purchase sandwiches from another food business that are supplied without packaging they will be non-prepacked and you should follow the rules above.&

If you purchase sandwiches from another food business that are supplied in packaging these will be classed as prepacked. Please refer to the labelling requirements below.

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Prepacked sandwiches

'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 …".

If you package sandwiches for sale to consumers from another premises you operate, or to supply another food business that will sell them to consumers, then the sandwiches are prepacked.

Prepacked sandwiches require the following labelling:

  • the name of the food
  • an ingredients list
  • information relating to allergenic ingredients
  • quantitative ingredient declarations (QUID)
  • a nutritional declaration
  • durability date marking
  • the name and address of the manufacturer
  • storage instructions (where necessary)
  • instructions for use (where necessary)
  • origin marking (if the label would be misleading without it)

Manufacturers of small quantities directly supplying consumers, or supplying local retailers, may be exempt from needing to label their products with a nutrition declaration; further detail can be found in 'Labelling of prepacked foods: nutrition declaration'.

If the product contains any of the 14 allergens below they must be highlighted in the ingredients list:

  • 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
  • fish
  • crustaceans
  • molluscs
  • sesame seeds
  • eggs
  • milk and milk products (including lactose)
  • soy beans
  • celery
  • lupin
  • mustard
  • sulphur dioxide and sulphites at levels above 10 mg/kg or 10 mg/litre expressed as SO2

Further information can be found in 'Food allergens and intolerance'.

If applicable the product will also need to be labelled with:

  • 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

A full explanation of how to label your products can be found in 'Labelling of prepacked foods: general' and the other guides on prepacked foods that it links to. Please note, however, that sandwiches are exempt from the requirement to provide a net quantity indication.

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Prepacked-for-direct-sale sandwiches

'Prepacked for direct sale' means food sold in packaging from the premises on which it was packaged, or a mobile stall or vehicle used by the business that packed the food.

There are additional labelling requirements for food that is prepacked for direct sale (whether sold from a mass caterer or otherwise). Please refer to 'Labelling of prepacked-for-direct-sale foods' for further information.

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Trading Standards

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'.

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In this update

Clarification regarding sandwiches that are prepacked for direct sale.

Last reviewed / updated: June 2022

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Key legislation

Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 on food additives

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

Food Information Regulations 2014

Food Information (Wales) Regulations 2014

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 often only shows 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 changes to legislation can be found by following the above links and clicking on the '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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