The advice sheets below have the latest information on food standards. If you need more advice call 01753 475111 (Regulatory Services option).
In the guide
The essentials of food labelling for the greengrocer, including the use of variety and organic
This guidance is for England
Fruit and vegetables on sale at greengrocers should be marked with the true name of the food. Most fruit and vegetables are required by European Union (EU) grading legislation to be labelled with their class and may also need labelling with country of origin and variety.
Care should be taken with any other descriptions to ensure they are correct - 'organic', for example. There are other requirements in relation to pricing and weight marking of the products.
Required labelling should be on a notice, on the food, that is clear and conspicuous to customers.
The true name of the food
Food products must have a name indicated that adequately describes them.
Food or ingredients that have been irradiated must be declared and labelled 'irradiated' or 'treated with ionising radiation'.
EU marketing rules & grading requirements
Most fruit and vegetables are required by EU grading legislation to be labelled with their class and may also need labelling with country of origin and variety. The Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (HMI) is responsible for the enforcement of these requirements. More information on traders' legal obligations can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Country of origin or place of provenance
The country of origin or place of provenance should be marked if failure to do so would be misleading. (This place of provenance is a more local description than country of origin - for example, English strawberries or Tasmanian apples.)
Waxed fruit & other treatments
Fruit that has been waxed must be labelled as such. Any other treatment or process that a product has been subjected to must also be given - for example, beetroot that has been dipped in vinegar or cooked should be labelled as such.
Cut, peeled or similarly treated prepacked fruit & vegetables
These are required to bear a list of ingredients unless the product is made up of a single ingredient. Some prepared salads, dried fruit and peeled potatoes are treated with preservative solution to keep them fresh; this, and anything else that has been added, must be declared as an ingredient.
If sulphur dioxide or sulphites have been used as a preservative, they must be highlighted in the ingredients list in order to comply with allergen-labelling requirements. For further information on allergen labelling see 'Food allergens & intolerance'.
Organic fruit and vegetables can only come from producers, importers or processors that have been inspected and approved by a body authorised by the Government. Food from any other source is not 'organic' and to describe it as such is an offence. See 'Labelling & describing organic food' for further information.
Weights & measures
For information regarding weighing and measuring requirements for products sold loose and/or prepacked, please see 'Weights & measures for greengrocers'.
Failure to comply may result in an improvement notice being issued, requiring compliance to be achieved. If the improvement notice is not complied with it is an offence under the Food Safety Act 1990. The maximum penalty is a fine and 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 is a fine.
Last reviewed / updated: March 2018
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 UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.