1. Overview

To sell food and drink products, the label must be:

  • clear and easy to read
  • permanent
  • easy to understand
  • easily visible
  • not misleading

You must show certain basic information and list the ingredients. You might also have to show certain warnings.

There are special regulations for labelling wine.

Products sold loose or in catering businesses

If you run a catering business, you sell food loose or package it for sale in your shop, you only need to show:

  • the name of the food
  • if any of the ingredients have been irradiated, or have come from genetically modified sources
  • certain warnings
  • any food additive you have added
  • allergen information

You must show more information if you sell meat products loose.


If you package food yourself, you must use packaging that’s suitable for food use. Suitable packaging is marked ‘for food contact’ or has a symbol on it that looks like a wine glass and a fork.

There are special rules for using plastics, ceramics or cellophane for packaging. You must have written evidence that you’ve kept to them.

This is known as a ‘declaration of compliance’ and you can get it from your packaging supplier. You also have to get one if you buy food that’s already packaged for sale in any of those materials.

Food assurance schemes

You could also join voluntary food assurance schemes such as Red Tractor or Lion Eggs. These schemes let customers know food has been produced to certain standards, eg on food safety or animal welfare.