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.

To fully understand this guidance, it is important to note the difference between the United Kingdom and Great Britain:

  • UK: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • GB: England, Scotland and Wales

This guidance is for England and Wales

In recent years there has been a surge in the number of shops selling goods to consumers in pots, jars, bottles and other containers that are provided by the consumers themselves.

There are a number of guides that cover these business practices and the types of goods sold, and business owners should familiarise themselves with them.


Food in refill shops is most commonly sold in a manner known as non-prepacked. Non-prepacked food has fewer labelling requirements than prepacked food but businesses must still provide consumers with certain information. See 'Labelling of non-prepacked foods' for more information. 

Any containers that you fill and display for customers to purchase will be considered prepacked for direct sale (PPDS), which has more complex requirements than non-prepacked food. For more information see 'Labelling of prepacked-for-direct-sale foods'.  

You will have to provide allergen information regardless of whether the product is sold non-prepacked or prepacked for direct sale. For more information see 'Food allergens and intolerance'.

You must ensure that the containers you sell your food products from, as well as any smaller containers that you sell to consumers who don't have their own, are suitable for food use. More information can be found in 'Food contact materials'. However, you are not responsible for ensuring that the containers consumers provide themselves are suitable.

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Product safety

If you sell shampoos, moisturisers, etc you need to ensure that what you sell is safe and correctly labelled. More information on these types of product can be found in 'Cosmetic products'.

For non-prepacked products, it may not be possible to label the products themselves; in these circumstances, information regarding precautions and ingredients can be given on leaflets, labels, tags or cards. 

You need to take particular precautions for products containing certain substances. One example would be for substances that may contain biocides, such as hand sanitisers, which are regulated by Regulation (EU) No 528/2012 concerning the making available on the market and use of biocidal products (now that the UK has left the EU, this is known as GB BPR). 

Several other EU regulations applying to biocides were brought into GB / UK law on 1 January 2021, including Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances (now known as GB CLP) and Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) (now known as UK REACH).

Another example would be for products containing active substances such as those found in cleaning products, detergents or bleaches. As with biocides, these are governed by GB CLP. The label or leaflet for products governed by GB CLP must include the following:

  • name, address and telephone number of the UK supplier
  • product identifiers - for example, chemical name and CAS / EC number of the substance
  • hazard pictogram
  • signal word (either 'Warning' or 'Danger' depending on the classification)
  • relevant hazard statement(s) that describe the hazardous effect - for example 'Harmful if inhaled'
  • appropriate precautionary statements to allow the user of the chemical to take measures to protect health / environment - for example, 'Keep out of reach of children'
  • nominal quantity (which is the declared quantity as marked on the container when the chemical is supplied prepacked to the general public)
  • obligatory supplementary information includes hazard statements taken from the previous chemical legislation - for example, EUH001 Explosive when dry and EUH204 Contains isocyanates. May produce an allergic reaction

There is also information that is non-obligatory supplementary information under GB CLP - for example, instructions for use. However, if the product relies on following instructions in order to be used safely, then these should be included on the label.

Further information on GB BPR, GB CLP and UK REACH can be found on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website. 

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Weights and measures

The weighing and measuring of the products you sell is covered by trading standards law.

The weight of products sold into customers' own refill containers must be in metric quantities - grams or kilograms - and must be determined using legally approved equipment. There are very specific requirements for the type of equipment that must be used, details of which can be found in 'Weighing equipment for legal use'

It is important to determine the weight of products sold before they are placed into the customer's container; this will ensure that only the weight of the product is being charged for. Alternatively, the customer's container may be weighed before it is filled so that the container weight may be deducted from the total, or the 'tare' function on weighing equipment can be used to remove the weight of a container from the weighing process.  

If liquid products are sold by volume, legally approved 'Government stamped' equipment must be used, and the products must be sold in millilitres or litres.

More information on the law in this area can be found in Business Companion's 'Weights and measures' section. Please contact your local trading standards service if further advice and information is required regarding appropriate weighing and measuring equipment, or the requirements for the measurement of particular products.

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Pricing is also important, of course, and details of the requirements can be found in 'Providing price information'. This guide also includes a list of the units in which products must be sold - for example, price per 100 g.

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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

Information on food that is 'prepacked for direct sale' added to the 'Food' section, along with a reference to the REACH Regulation in the 'Product safety' section.

Last reviewed / updated: September 2022

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Key legislation

Weights and Measures Act 1985

Food Safety Act 1990

Weighing Equipment (Non-automatic Weighing Machines) Regulations 2000

Price Marking Order 2004

Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004 on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food

Regulation (EC) No 1895/2005 on the restriction of use of certain epoxy derivatives in materials and articles intended to come into contact with food

Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH)

Regulation (EC) No 2023/2006 on good manufacturing practice for materials and articles intended to come into contact with food

Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

Regulation (EC) No 450/2009 on active and intelligent materials and articles intended to come into contact with food

Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 on cosmetic products

Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances 

Regulation (EU) No 10/2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food

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

Materials and Articles in Contact with Food (England) Regulations 2012

Materials and Articles in Contact with Food (Wales) Regulations 2012

Regulation (EU) No 528/2012 concerning the making available on the market and use of biocidal products

Cosmetic Products Enforcement Regulations 2013

Food Information Regulations 2014

Food Information (Wales) Regulations 2014

Non-automatic Weighing Instruments Regulations 2016

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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