Trade Advice Document
Trading advice from several sources is available to help businesses comply with the law.
The Health and Safety Executive website has advice on:
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute provides advice on a number of topics:
Labelling of sweets
In the guide
The requirements for the labelling of sweets, including the specific rules for chocolate
This guidance is for England
This guide covers the labelling of sweets sold in any of the following situations:
- loose or unwrapped
- pick 'n' mix
- packed by you on the premises from which they will be sold
- prepacked by you for sale from your market stall or mobile vehicle (prepacked means food that is completely or partially enclosed in packaging, cannot be removed without changing the packaging in some way, and was packed on a premises other than the one it is being sold from)
The 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'.
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.
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 10mg/kg or 10mg/litre expressed as SO2
How must the information be given?
When sold to the consumer the required information must be marked either:
- on a label attached to the food
- on a label, ticket or notice that can easily be seen and read by the purchaser at the place where they choose the food
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.
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.
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 term 'chocolate' can only be used for products meeting the correct compositional standards. Details of the compositional standards and the additional labelling requirements imposed by the Cocoa and Chocolate Products (England) Regulations 2003 can be found in the Food Standards Agency's guidance notes on cocoa and chocolate products.
Failure to comply may result in an improvement notice being issued, requiring compliance to be achieved. If it is decided that the improvement notice has not been complied with this is an offence under the Food Safety Act 1990, which carries a maximum penalty of 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 maximum penalty is a fine.
- Cocoa and Chocolate Products (England) Regulations 2003
- EU Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 on food additives
- EU Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers
- EU 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)
- Food Information Regulations 2014
Last reviewed / updated: February 2018
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 UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.
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The county council is not responsible for this information.