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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 EU Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. The sweets must be labelled with their true name and an indication, if present, of any of the 14 specified allergens.

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 true name of the sweets must be given, 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'. However, a customary name may be permitted if it is readily understood by UK consumers and the sweet can be clearly distinguished from other similar types of sweet.

If the sweets contain any of the following types of allergen, 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
  • fish
  • crustaceans
  • molluscs
  • sesame seeds
  • eggs
  • milk and milk products (including lactose)
  • soy beans
  • celery
  • lupin
  • mustard
  • 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
    ...or
  • 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.

Chocolate

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 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.

Penalties

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 on conviction of an unlimited fine and/or 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 on conviction 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.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation. 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. Amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide.

Last reviewed/updated: January 2015

       

 

 
 

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This page was last edited on 21/04/15