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:
In the guide
The law requires any pet food that you sell to be labelled with certain information
Note: although the United Kingdom has left the European Union, 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
This guide covers the labelling of any type of compound or manufactured pet food that is on sale either loose (from bins, hoppers or other retail bulk displays) or in small prepacks you make up yourself by breaking down larger packs.
If you buy in prepacked containers or packages, which you then offer for sale, these should have been labelled already by the manufacturer or supplier.
The pet food must be labelled with the mandatory labelling requirements; this is sometimes referred to as a 'statutory statement'.
What is a compound pet food?
A compound pet food is a product comprising a mixture of at least two ingredients (with or without additives), usually in the form of a coarse mix, kibbles / biscuits, or as a wet food in tins or pouches.
The pet food must be labelled with both the general mandatory labelling requirements and specific mandatory labelling requirements.
General mandatory labelling requirements:
Specific mandatory labelling requirements:
If the pet food arrives in a package or container, the labelling particulars should be included either directly on the container or on a label attached to it (subject to minor exemptions). Where the material arrives in bulk, the information can be supplied in accompanying documentation.
The labelling particulars must be given in a conspicuous, clearly legible and indelible manner, and in English (subject to legislation). The particulars must be easily identifiable and not obscured by any other information. The labelling and presentation must not mislead the user as to the nature, method of manufacture, quantity, durability, composition, and species of animals for which it is intended.
When selling pet food loose from bins or hoppers, the required labelling particulars must be displayed in a conspicuous place (either attached to the bin or with the feed) in such a way that it is clear to which product it relates. In these circumstances the full feed particulars must be provided to the purchaser at the latest on or with the invoice. This only relates to feed sold loose in quantities not exceeding 20 kg and intended for the final user.
For other prepacked goods you must mark each pack with the required labelling particulars. However, for 'multipack' pet food (such as one package with several containers, where the total weight of the package is not more than 10 kg) the full mandatory labelling only needs to be given on the outer packaging instead of on each container. The containers within the multipack must be labelled with at least the following:
Where pet food is sold loose, care must be taken to ensure that any use-before or best-before dates and batch numbers are updated when new stock is added. Consideration must also be given to efficient and effective stock rotation to ensure the accuracy of information given on the labelling.
The advice contained within this guide dictates the information that must be provided on any pet food labelling. Further optional information may also be provided. The European Commission has encouraged the development of two codes of good labelling practice (one for pet food and one for compound feed for food-producing animals). Certain EU laws have been retained and 'transposed' into UK law, and the codes should be consulted as a guide to aid compliance with current labelling requirements.
Manufacturing your own pet foods
If you manufacture or mix your own pet foods for sale please contact your local trading standards service for further advice as this is a complex area always requiring prior registration and/or approval. This includes manufacturing pet food in domestic houses and other premises. More information can be found in 'Manufacturing your own pet foods'.
Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment. For more information please see 'Trading standards: powers, enforcement and penalties'.
Last reviewed / updated: March 2021
In this update
Labelling requirements relating to 'multipacks' clarified
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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