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Labelling of sweets

The requirements for the labelling of sweets, including the specific rules for chocolate

This guidance is for England

The labelling of sweets is governed by the Food Labelling Regulations 1996. The sweets must be labelled with their true name, and an indication, if present, of any of the specified additives.

When sold to the consumer the required information must be marked on a label attached to the food, or on a label that can easily be seen and read by the purchaser.

Care must be taken when using the descriptions 'flavour' or 'flavoured' as they have different meanings. In addition to this, the Cocoa and Chocolate Products (England) Regulations 2003 list specific requirements concerning the compositional requirements of chocolate.

In the guide

Situations covered

This guide covers the labelling of sweets sold in any of the following situations:

  • loose or unwrapped
  • pick 'n' mix
  • prepacked by you on the premises
  • prepacked by you for sale from your market stall or mobile vehicle

The guide does not cover:

  • sweets prepacked by you for sale from another premises
  • sweets prepacked by another packer and sold by you 

These products require full labelling. As such, they are covered by 'Labelling of prepacked foods'.

What labelling is required?

The following information must be given:

  • the true name of the sweets, being a name that clearly describes what the product is. For example, a product marketed as 'Wiggly Worms' would need the true name of the food on the label for clarification, such as 'Fruit flavour jelly sweets'
  • if the sweets contain any of the following types of additives, the category name for those additives must be stated:
    - antioxidants
    - sweeteners
    - colours
    - flavour enhancers
    - flavourings
    - preservatives

For this purpose it is sufficient to state the category of additive without specifying its full name or 'E' number (for example 'contains colour and flavouring') . However, if any of the following colours are used the product label must contain the following warning: '[name or E number of the colour(s)]: may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children': 

  • E102 Tartrazine
  • E104 Quinoline Yellow
  • E110 Sunset Yellow
  • E122 Carmoisine
  • E124 Ponceau 4R
  • E129 Allura Red

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 and you may have to seek the relevant information from your supplier. Details may already have been given in invoices and similar documents or on an outer package.

Flavour / flavoured

It is important to realise that the words 'flavour' and 'flavoured' have different meanings. For example, orange flavoured sweets derive their flavour from real oranges, but orange flavour sweets are synthetically flavoured.


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 which contain chocolate.

The term 'chocolate' can only be used for products meeting the correct compositional standard. 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 with these requirements is a criminal offence. The maximum penalty on conviction in a Magistrates' Court is a fine of £5,000.

Key legislation

Please note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law. Any legislation referred to, while still current, may have been amended from the form in which it was originally enacted. Please contact us for further information.

Last reviewed/updated: August 2014




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This page was last edited on 26/09/14