This is an area that is largely enforced by Trading Standards Officers, except for Use-By dates where Environmental Health staff has powers as well. It can be a very complex subject and if in any doubt about anything described below, contact Trading Standards at Kent County Council for advice.
As a general rule, most loose foods such as fruit and vegetables must be sold by net weight, using approved weighing equipment. If food is pre-packed, the weight must be marked on the pack, (you can show both imperial and metric weights). Some pre-packed foodstuffs must be sold in specific quantities; these include potatoes, jams, honey, dried fruit and dried vegetables.
Food labelling can be very specific but as a general rule, the following advice applies:
Loose foods and foods pre-packed by you must display the name of the food, which must be accurate and unambiguous. You will also need to indicate any additives used, such as flavouring, flavour enhancers, preservatives, flour improvers, colours, anti-oxidants or sweeteners.
Pre-packed foods, other than those you have pre-packed yourself, may require:
- A 'Best Before' or 'Use By' date. 'Best Before' dates are mainly for foods whose quality decreases over a medium to long shelf life, such as cakes and biscuits. 'Use By' dates are for foods which deteriorate rapidly and may end up posing a risk to health, such as chilled meat products.
- A list of ingredients.
- The name and address of the person putting the product into circulation.
- Any storage conditions.
- Any previous process or treatment, for example "previously frozen".
There are specific requirements for declaring the percentages of certain ingredients. For instance, where an ingredient is highlighted in the name of a food, e.g. "Apple and ginger chutney" the percentages of apple & ginger would have to be declared on the label.
There are also specific requirements regarding the inclusion of genetically modified and irradiated ingredients.
Meat products require a label showing their minimum meat content or, in the case of cured meat, their added water content. For Farmers' Markets, this is a chance for exploiting any superior meat content of your product over those that are available in the high street.
Prices must be clearly displayed, either per item or per weight, litre, square metre or metre as appropriate. The price can be displayed as a list at the stall or shown directly on the product.
iv. Business Names
While it is usually good practice to display your full name and address on your stall, if you are trading in someone else's name, you must clearly display to customers the business name and address of the owners.
v. Other Considerations
Some foods, such as jams and fruit juices, have specific Trading Standards requirements. This leaflet does not cover all aspects of the law and just to re-emphasize the advice of the opening paragraph in this section, your local Trading Standards officer at Kent County Council will be happy to talk to you