In this article, our Primary Authority partners Milton Keynes Council tackle the often-asked question, “How do I know what food labelling is required?”.

What is “pre-packed for direct sale”?

Foods which are pre-packed by a retailer for sale by him on the premises where the food is packed, or from a vehicle or stall used by him, fall within the definition of “pre-packed for direct sale”.

Food “pre-packed for direct sale” does not include food produced at a central site and distributed for sale at other retail premises

What labelling is required for foods “pre-packed for direct sale”?

Foods which are pre-packed for direct sale must be labelled with:

  • The name of the food
  • If any ingredients have been irradiated
  • If any ingredients have come from GM sources
  • Certain warnings
  • Allergen information (or a notice advising that this is available on request)

So, for example, you’d need to provide labelling covering these areas for sandwiches.

What is “pre-packed” food?

“Pre-packed food” is food which has been put into packaging before being offered for sale to the customer. Pre-packed food does not include foods packed on the premises at the customer’s request or foods “pre-packed for direct sale”.

What labelling is required for “pre-packed” foods?

The following information is required in English on pre-packed food labelling:

  1. The food name
  2. A list of ingredients, in descending order, by weight
  3. A percentage quantity indication for certain ingredients or categories of ingredients (also known as a “QUID” declaration)
  4. A use-by date or an indication of minimum durability (in the form “best before” or “best before end”). A lot or batch number may also be added (unless the date is sufficient to specify this)
  5. The net quantity
  6. Any special storage or use conditions
  7. The name and address of the responsible food business operator
  8. Place of origin, if its omission could mislead
  9. Any instructions that are necessary to use the food
  10. Nutrition information (this is optional until 13 December 2016)
  11. If the product contains any additives (such as colours or preservatives) its name or ‘E’ number must be preceded by the category name of the principal function of the additive in the ingredients list
  12. Specified allergenic ingredients must be indicated in the ingredients list of pre-packed food by means of highlighting the allergen font
  13. Food or ingredients that have been irradiated must be declared and labelled “irradiated” or “treated with ionising radiation”
  14. Food or ingredients that contain, consist of, or are produced from genetically modified organisms must be labelled as such

What labelling is required for food sold at catering establishments?

For food sold at a catering establishment, which is not “pre-packed” or “pre-packed for direct sale”; no information is required to be labelled on the food. Allergen information must be made available (in writing or orally) and foods that have been irradiated or that contain GM ingredients must be declared.

What about nutrition labelling?

Mandatory nutrition labelling will apply to the majority of “pre-packed” foods from 13th December 2016. If you provide nutrition labelling on a voluntary basis before then, it must comply with the regulations.

If you make a nutrition and/or health claim, or declare vitamins or minerals added to a food, you must provide nutrition labelling in line with the regulations introduced on 13th December 2013.

There is NO REQUIREMENT for nutrition labelling to be provided on “non prepacked” food or foods sold “prepacked for direct sale”.


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