Food labelling: loose foods

Give information to consumers when selling food that is loose or hasn't been prepacked by another producer.

You don’t need to give food information to consumers if you’re not a food business and you’re providing food for an occasional event, like a village fair.

Loose (also called non-prepacked) foods are any foods sold loose. These can include:

  • meat or cheese at a deli counter
  • unpackaged bread
  • vegetables sold at a market
  • pick and mix sweets (including individually wrapped sweets)

Read the guidance on labelling prepacked food products if you sell food that is packaged before it’s put on sale.

Information you must give

When you sell loose foods you must tell the customer:

You don’t need to give any further information on loose food.

If you decide to give other information, for example an ingredients list or use by date, you must follow the rules for prepacked foods.

You must also follow rules on how to tell a consumer if the food contains genetically modified (GM) ingredients.

How to give the information

You can choose how to give this information. You can either display the information clearly where you market the food, or tell your customers verbally.

If you choose to give this information verbally, you must put up a notice so your customers know they can ask you.

If you sell food products online or by phone or mail order, customers must be able to get this information for free before they buy.

You must provide a freephone number, or list the information on your website or in your catalogue.

How the rules are enforced

Trading standards officers enforce most food labelling rules by issuing improvement notices.

You won’t get an improvement notice, and you may be immediately prosecuted, if you fail to give allergen information to consumers.


If you’re a consumer who is concerned about the labelling of a food product, you can contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.

If you’re a business and want advice on labelling, contact your local trading standards office.

Published 3 January 2017