Legalease Home page
Regulated businesses

Food selling and manufacturing

This page contains:


Farming and agriculture

Food Standards Agency

Food premises

Food safey and hygiene

Food labelling and information

European protection of food origin and characteristics

Health claims

Specific foods:

 bread and flour, condended and dried milk, fish and shellfish, honey and meat, wine

Organic food

Materials in contact with food




On the 28th of January 2002 the European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation (EC)178/2002 laying down the General Principles and requirements of Food Law.

The aim of the General Food Law Regulation is to provide a framework to ensure a coherent approach in the development of food legislation. At the same time, it provides the general framework for those areas not covered by specific harmonised rules but where the functioning of the Internal Market is ensured by mutual recognition.

It lays down definitions, principles and obligations covering all stages of food/feed production and distribution.


Food legislation applicable in the UK is contained in both UK and EU legislation. The legislation sometimes overlaps. The position is even more complicated because of different subordinate legislation in the UK countries.

The EU regulations contain detailed regulations in relation to food hygiene, handling of food and food premises and are strict.

A degree of flexibility in the application of the regulations is permitted to take account of the circumstances in particular the nature and size of the food premises.

Most legislation is common to all the UK countries. Some differences in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are noted in the text below.

Farming and agriculture

Farming and agriculture is regulated to a great extent under EU legislation. The food safety aspects are regulated by the FSA which has a section on its website in this area.

Food Standards Agency

The Food Standards Act 1999 established the Food Standards Agency (“FSA”) as the Government department responsible for food safety and hygiene legislation and supervisor of the local food law enforcement authorities.

Visit the FSA’s website for frequently asked questions and answers, and for guidance for food businesses including the Food Safety Act 1990 and the General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002.

The FSA provide “Safer food, better business” (SFBB) packs designed to meet the specific needs of different food businesses. There are packs for small catering businesses, small retail businesses, and restaurants and takeaways that serve different cuisines, such as Chinese or Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan cuisines. There is also a pack for childminders and a supplement for care homes that is designed to be used with the pack for caterers.

Certain enforcement and other detailed regulations vary in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The FSA has specific divisions and sections of its website for these nations.

What’s new items on this topic:

15/01/2015: Food (Scotland) Act 2015

The Food (Scotland) Act 2015 was enacted on 13 January 2015. The Act creates a new body, Food Standards Scotland (FSS), to regulate public health of food for Scotland.

FSS will replace the Food Standards Agency in Scotland.

Food premises

Registration of food premises

Generally, any food business operator concerned with the manufacture, import and sale of food must register any premises where the business is carried on with the relevant local authority (Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council).

This applies to every type of food business, in particular:

* Staff restaurant/canteen/kitchen
* Hospital/residential home/school
* Retailer (including farm shop)
* Distribution/warehousing
* Restaurant/café/snack bar
* Food manufacturing/processing
* Market/ Market stall
* Importer
* Takeaway
* Catering
* Hotel/pub/guest house
* Packer
* Private house used for a food business            
* Moveable establishment e.g. ice cream van
* Wholesale/cash and carry
* Primary producer - livestock
* Primary producer - arable

Tacit consent: it appears that some authorities consider that tacit consent to registration does apply and some not..

Food premises hygiene rating

food hygiene rating schemeThe FSA has initiated a national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme to run in England, Wales and Northern Ireland . There is a similar scheme run in Scotland. The national scheme is replacing local schemes such as "Scores on the Doors".

Under the scheme, local environmental health officials rely on their general powers of inspection in order to visit food premises to carry out the rating. The ratings range from 0 (urgent improvements necessary) to 5 (very good). There is no legal obligation to display the rating. For further information, check with the FSA and the relevant local authority.

What’s new items on this topic [go to the What’s New page or archive for the full item]:

10/05/2012: FSA publishes research on display of its food hygiene ratings
The Food Standards Agency has published research on the level of voluntary display of its food hygiene schemes in the UK. These are the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) ratings in England and Northern Ireland, and the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS) ‘Pass’ results in Scotland. The research has shown that:
* 43% of businesses in England and 50% in Northern Ireland which had been given an FHRS rating were displaying it;
* the higher the rating the more likely a business was to display: 56% of businesses in England and 57% in Northern Ireland rated ‘4’ or ‘5’ displayed, compared with 12% and 22% respectively of those rated '0' to '2';
* 47% of businesses in Scotland were displaying their FHIS ‘Pass’ result.
In 2008, the FSA Board decided that display of ratings at premises should initially be voluntary, but that this should be kept under review. The Board will be reviewing the current voluntary approach to the display of ratings at its meeting on 22 May 2012.

Night opening of premises

England and Wales

A premises licence under the Licensing Act 2003 is required to supply at any time between the hours of 11.00 pm. and 5.00 am hot food or hot drink to members of the public, or a section of the public, on or from any premises, whether for consumption on or off the premises.
Certain supplies are exempt, including supplies to a member of a recognised club, a person staying at a particular hotel or at comparable premises such as a guest house, lodging house or hostel, a caravan site or camping site, or any other premises mainly for overnight accommodation.
For further information, see Alcohol sale and licensed activities and enquire of the local authority.

Northern Ireland

Enquire of the local authority.


A late hours catering licence is required for the use of premises between the hours of eleven o’clock in the evening and five o’clock the following morning for the sale to or consumption by the public of meals or refreshment on as well as off the premises in which they are sold.

For further information, enquire of the local authority.

Food safety and hygiene

Food Safety Act 1990

The Food Safety Act 1990 (as amended) covering Great Britain and for Northern Ireland the Food (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 and the Food Safety (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 create various offences relating to the sale and treatment of food including in particular:

* rendering food injurious to health by:  adding an article or substance to the food, using

an article or substance as an ingredient in the preparation of the food, abstracting any constituent from the food, subjecting the food to any process or treatment with the intention that it shall be sold for human consumption;

* selling to the purchaser’s prejudice any food which is not of the nature or substance or quality demanded by the purchaser;

* falsely describing or presenting food.

Meaning of “food”

“Food” includes drink, articles and substances of no nutritional value which are used for human consumption, chewing gum and other products of a like nature and use; and articles and substances used as ingredients in the preparation of food.

Food does not include live animals or birds, or live fish which are not used for human consumption while they are alive, fodder or feeding stuffs for animals, birds or fish, controlled drugs within the meaning of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 or (subject to such exceptions as may be specified in an order) medicinal products within the meaning of the Medicines Act 1968 in respect of which product are in force or other articles or substances in respect of which such licences are in force under that Act.(application of Act to other articles and substances).

General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002

This EU regulation applies throughout the EU and provides in particular:

* Imports: food imported into the European Union (EU) for placing on the market must comply with the requirements of food law recognised by the EU;

* Exports: food exported (or re-exported) from the EU must comply with the requirements of food law;

* Safety: food must not be placed on the market if it is unsafe. Food is deemed to be unsafe if it is considered to be injurious to health or unfit for human consumption;

* Presentation: labelling, advertising and presentation, including the setting in which the food is displayed, of food must not mislead consumers;

* Traceability: food business operators must keep records of food, food substances and food-producing animals supplied to their business, and also other businesses to which their products have been supplied.

* Withdrawal, recall and notification: food business operators must withdraw food which is not in compliance with food safety requirements, if it has left their control and to recall the food if it has reached the consumer.

The General Food Regulations 2004 (as amended) provides for the enforcement in the UK of the above provisions of Regulation (EC) 178/2002.

Food hygiene legislation

Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council lays down the food hygiene rules for all food businesses, applying controls throughout the food chain, from primary production to sale or supply to the food consumer.

These regulations require all food business operators (other than primary) to put in place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure of hazard analysis and critical control points (“HACCP principles”).

The regulations also require food business operators to register their premises with the local authority (see above)..

Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council

of 29 April 2004 lays down specific rules on the hygiene of food of animal origin for food
business operators. The regulations apply to unprocessed and processed products of animal origin. They do not generally apply to primary production for private domestic use, the direct supply, by the producer, of small quantities of primary products to the final
consumer or to local retail establishments directly supplying the final consumer. The regulations provide among other things:

* Food business operators must use potable water to remove surface contamination from products of animal origin;

* Food business operators may place products of animal origin manufactured in the EU
on the market only if they have been prepared and handled exclusively in an approved establishment, and only if the products bear a health or identification mark in accordance with the regulations;

* Food business operators importing products of animal origin from third countries must ensure that importation takes place only if: the third country of dispatch appears on the approved list and certain other requirements are satisfied.

Regulation (EC) 854/2004 lays down specific rules for the organisation of official controls on products of animal origin intended for human consumption.

Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013

The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 (2013 No. 2996) are made under s.2(2) and paragraph 1A of Schedule 2 to the European Communities Act 1972(1) and come into force on 31 December 2013. These Regulations revoke and re-enact with some minor changes the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 (S.I. 2006/14) and certain provisions of the General Food Regulations 2004 (S.I. 2004/3279) as they apply in relation to England.

Separate legislation applies in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, notably:

.* Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Amendment (Scotland) Regulations 2005 (2005 No. 435);

* Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005 (2005 No. 408);

* Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2005

These regulations provide for certain enforcement powers and criminal offences in the UK in relation to the EU regulations on food safety and hygiene described above.

Desinewed meat and Mechanically separated meat

In the case of R (on the application of Newby Foods Ltd) v Food Standards Agency: [2013] EWHC 1966 (Admin), the High Court referred to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) a question on the classification of "desinewed meat" (or DSM) and whether it should be treated differently from mechanically separated meat (MSM).

Desinewed meat is regarded by many, including the Defendant, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as being quite different from MSM produced by the high-pressure process used for MSM. Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 of 29 April 2004 lays down "specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin". Annex I to the Regulation contains the definition (paragraph 1.14) of 'mechanically separated meat' or 'MSM' which means the product obtained by removing meat from flesh-bearing bones after boning or from poultry carcasses, using mechanical means resulting in the loss or modification of the muscle fibre structure.

The CJEU ruled that Points 1.14 and 1.15 of Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 must be interpreted as meaning that the product obtained by the mechanical removal of meat from flesh-bearing bones after boning or from poultry carcases must be classified as ‘mechanically separated meat’.

High Court referral decision:

CJEU ruling:


What’s new on this topic [see What’s new page or archive for full item]:

06/04/2020: Tesco loses legal case on meaning of foods ‘use by’ date

R on the application of Tesco Stores Limited v Birmingham Magistrates' Court

and Birmingham City Council [2020] EWHC 799 (Admin

High Court, Administrative Court In Birmingham Hearing date: 17 March 2020

Between June 2015 and June 2017 Environmental Health Officers (EHO) employed by Birmingham City Council (the Council) visited three Tesco stores and found a total of 67 items on sale past their use by dates; some were Tesco own brand and some were other brands. Two of the visits followed reports by members of the public about past use by date items on sale.

EHO investigations revealed that Tesco had detailed policies and procedures regarding date code management in place, but the amount of items and the respective use by dates showed in their opinion that there was a substantial failure effectively to implement, monitor and verify them.

The Council brought 22 charges against Tesco in Birmingham Magistrates' Court, on the basis that, by displaying for sale items of food with an expired use by date, Tesco had committed the offences of placing food on the market that was "unsafe".

Tesco served an expert report by a food microbiologist to the effect that none of the foods seized by the EHOs was "highly perishable", none would cause any immediate danger to human health after a short period beyond the use by date and none was unsafe from a microbiological point of view in that, if the cooking/heating instructions were followed, that would have rendered the product safe to eat. Tesco therefore argued that none of the seized items were unsafe and consequently, it had committed no offence.

A legal issue therefore arose as to the true interpretation of the words in the relevant (EU) legislation: "After the 'use by' date a food shall be deemed to be unsafe…", The prosecution argued that the wording created a rule of law or *irrebuttable presumption” that, once the use by date has expired, the food item in question is "unsafe". Tesco contended that the words only created a presumption that the food was unsafe which could be rebutted by expert evidence.

The District Judge in the Magistrates' Court directed that this issue be determined as a preliminary issue, because Tesco’s expert evidence would only be relevant if in order to determine whether or not the expert evidence which Tesco wished to rely on was admissible. It would only be relevant if the article 24 presumption was rebuttable. The judge held that the regulation created an "absolute presumption" that could not be rebutted by evidence that the relevant food item was not in fact unsafe.

Tesco challenged the ruling by applying to the High Court for judicial review. After fully reviewing the law, the High Court ruled that the District Judge was correct.

Comment: the case will now go back to the Magistrate’s Court for trial (unless Tesco pleads guilty. It will not be allowed to adduce expert evidence but will have to rely on the “due diligence” defence which may be difficult as the offences were committed over a two year period and many were committed after reports by customers followed by visits from EHOs.

[Original case report provided by BAILII is acknowledged with thanks. Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0. Legaleze is solely responsible for the article or summary.]


Food labelling and information

12/12/2014: New food labelling allergen information rules for consumers

As from 13 December 2014, food business operators including restaurants and takeaways are required to tell customers if any of the main 14 ingredients to which people are known to have allergic reactions or intolerances are in the food they serve.

Food business operators such as restaurants and cafes have been given flexibility on how they provide allergen information. This can be communicated through explanations by staff or signposted to where or how more information can be found in writing (for example, on menus or in additional leaflets) or verbally.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced that research carried out in partnership with national charity Allergy UK, found 70% of people with allergies avoid buying takeaways due to concern about allergens and a lack of trust in information they are given. It is hoped the new laws will reduce the number of reactions caused by people accidentally eating food they are allergic to.

According to the FSA, on average 10 people die and about 5,000 are hospitalised per year due to allergic reactions; the majority of these avoidable deaths and hospitalisations are caused by incorrect information being given about allergenic ingredients in foods when eating out. The FSA adds that this is a growing issue in the UK, with hospital admissions relating to allergies rising by 87% between 2002 and 2014.

The 14 allergens range from widely known ingredients such as peanuts and milk, to less widely recognised allergens including mustard and lupin seeds, which are often used in flour. In summary, the ingredients include the following (and the products thereof) subject to certain exceptions:

1. Cereals containing gluten,(namely: wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, kamut or their hybridised strains) with certain exceptions;

2. Crustaceans;

3. Eggs;

4. Fish except some fish gelatine;

5. Peanuts and products thereof;

6. Soybeans except fully refined soybean oil and fat and certain tocopherols and vegetable oils derived from soybean sources;sources;

7. Milk except whey used for making alcoholic distillates and lactitol;

8. Nuts including almonds, hazelnuts, cashew, pecan nuts, brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia or Queensland nuts (Macadamia ternifolia) except for nuts used for making alcoholic distillates including ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin;9.

9. Celery;

10. Mustard and products thereof;

11. Sesame seeds;

12. Sulphur dioxide and sulphites at concentrations of more than 10 mg/kg;

13. Lupin; and

14. Molluscs

The full technical list of substances or products causing allergies or intolerances is set out in Annex II of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011. A more user-friendly explanation is to be found in the FSA’s ‘infographic’.

A person guilty of an offence under regulation 10 is liable on summary conviction to an unlimited fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale. In relation to offences committed after 27 May 2014, this in effect means an unlimited fine.

31/07/2014: New EU regulation on gluten in food information

The EU Commission has made Implementing Regulation (EU) No 828/2014 of 30 July 2014 on the requirements for the provision of information to consumers on the absence or reduced presence of gluten in food. The Regulation will apply from 20 July 2016 and will be directly applicable in all Member States.

Information to consumers [Article 3]

 Where statements are used to provide information to consumers on the absence or reduced presence of gluten in food, such information shall be given only through the statements and in accordance with the conditions set out in the Annex.

The food information may be accompanied by the statements ‘suitable for people intolerant to gluten’ or ‘suitable for coeliacs’.

The food information may be accompanied by the statements ‘specifically formulated for people intolerant to gluten’ or ‘specifically formulated for coeliacs’ if the food is specially produced, prepared and/or processed to:

(a) reduce the gluten content of one or more gluten-containing ingredients; or

(b) substitute the gluten-containing ingredients with other ingredients naturally free of gluten.

Infant formulae and follow-on formulae [Article 4]

The provision of food information on the absence or reduced presence of gluten in infant formulae and follow-on formulae as defined in Directive 2006/141/EC is prohibited.


Statements on the absence or reduced presence of gluten in food that are allowed to be made and conditions thereof

General requirements

Gluten free: The statement ‘gluten-free’ may only be made where the food as sold to the final consumer contains no more than 20 mg/kg of gluten.

Very low gluten: The statement ‘very low gluten’ may only be made where the food, consisting of or containing one or more ingredients made from wheat, rye, barley, oats or their crossbred varieties which have been specially processed to reduce the gluten content, contains no more than 100 mg/kg of gluten in the food as sold to the final consumer.

 Additional requirements for food containing oats

Oats contained in a food presented as gluten-free or very low gluten must have been specially produced, prepared and/or processed in a way to avoid contamination by wheat, rye, barley, or their crossbred varieties and the gluten content of such oats cannot exceed

People with coeliac disease suffer from a permanent intolerance to gluten. Wheat (i.e. all triticum species, such as durum wheat, spelt, and khorasan wheat), rye and barley have been identified as grains that are scientifically reported to contain gluten. The gluten present in those grains can cause adverse health effects to people intolerant to gluten and therefore its consumption should be avoided by such people.


‘Gluten’ means a protein fraction from wheat, rye, barley, oats or their crossbred varieties and derivatives thereof, to which some persons are intolerant and which is insoluble in water and 0,5 M sodium chloride solution;

‘Wheat’ means any Triticum species.

19/05/2014: New quantity labelling requirements

The EU Regulation on the Provision of Food Information to Consumers (1169/2011) introduces new quantity labelling requirements for pre-packed foods to ensure food information is not misleading. The regulation will come into force from 13 December 2014 and will have direct effect in the UK.

Existing UK regulations will be superseded. Under existing UK legislation most of foods are already required to be sold by weight or volume, but certain foods may be sold by number and some are exempt from quantity labelling.

In summary, the new regulation applies to all foods intended for the final consumer or mass caterers and require:

* the net quantity (weight or volume) of pre-packaged food to be labelled;

* quantity information to be accurate, clear, and easy to understand;

* quantity information to be marked directly on the package or an attached label;

* quantity to be labelled in same field of vision as name of food and alcoholic strength;

* foods (except herbs and spices) below 5g or ml are exempt;

* foods normally sold by number are exempt from marking net weight, provided the number of items can clearly be seen and easily counted from the outside or, if not, the number is indicated on the labelling;

* for products presented in a liquid medium, drained net weight to be labelled in addition to net weight :

18/11/2014: Changes to food labelling rules confirmed
The Weights and Measures (Food) (Amendment) Regulations 2014, SI 2014/2975, which come into force on 13 December 2014, introduce amendments to weights and measures legislation regulating the quantity labelling aspects of the sale of food. Any provisions overlapping or conflicting with the quantity labelling requirements which apply to pre-packed foods under EU Regulation 1169/2011/EU are revoked.

31/07/2013: Supreme Court rules on ‘use by’ date regulations
Torfaen County Borough Council v Douglas Willis Ltd [2013] UKSC 59

Inspectors from the council's trading standards department visited the company's premises where they found a number of packages of frozen meat labelled with "use by" dates which had passed. An information was preferred against it, including 23 charges under the Food Labelling Regulations 1996 regulation 44(1)(d).

The justices accepted the company's argument that the prosecution had to prove that at the date of the alleged offence the food was highly perishable and likely after a short period to constitute an immediate danger to human health.

The Supreme Court allowed the prosecution's appeal

May 2018: Country of Origin or Place of Provenance of Primary Ingredients of Food

The EU Implementing Regulation 2018/775 (IR 2018/775) sets the rules s on labelling the Country of Origin or Place of Provenance of Primary Ingredients of Food where this is different to that of the food itself. The Regulation will be in force and directly applicable throughout the EU from 1 April 2020.

The rules mean that, for example, a cheese labelled as being British needs to make clear on the label if the milk used to make the cheese is not from the UK.


European protection of food names

EU legislation provides for a system of registration of food names which denote foods made in a traditional way or made in a particular region1. There are three designations of food names:

* protected designation of origin;
* protected geographic indication;
* certificate of specific character.

These protections are not in the nature of intellectual property but are a form of guarantee of origin or quality which is (to an extent) protected by EU and national law. Read more

Health claims

Under Article 10(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, health claims made on foods are prohibited unless they are authorised by the Commission in accordance with that Regulation and included in a list of permitted claims.

The list of permitted health claims made on foods, other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health, is in the Annex to Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012.

112/06/2013: EU regulation amends list of permitted health claims made on foods
Commission Regulation No 536/2013 amends Regulation No 432/2012 establishing a list of permitted health claims made on foods other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health. See:

Specific foods

Bread and flour regulations

The Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 lay down specific labelling and compositional rules for bread and flour produced in Great Britain. Separate rules apply in Northern Ireland. Under these rules white and brown flour is required to have added to it specified quantities of iron, calcium, thiamin and niacin. The Regulations also lay down chemical specifications for those mandatory nutrients.

The legislative requirement to fortify flour was introduced post World War II in order to restore the iron, thiamin and niacin that are lost in the milling process to the levels present in unrefined flour. The addition of calcium was introduced in the 1940s as a means of providing more calcium in the diet at a time when dairy products (a good source of calcium) were limited.

In 2013 Defra issued a  consultation document on the Bread and Flour Regulations 1998 in
order to gain views on whether, 60 years on, fortification is still necessary for the nutritional health of the UK population and, whether the current rules on mandatory fortification of flour are still required with a view to scrapping these national rules (as they apply to England) if no longer needed. Defra announced its decision to take no action in a letter dated 5 August 2013.

Condensed and dried milk


The Condensed Milk and Dried Milk (England) Regulations 2015 replaces and consolidates the Condensed Milk and Dried Milk (England) Regulations 2003 and the Condensed Milk and Dried Milk (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2008(2).

existing Statutory Instruments (SIs) with a single SI. These regulations impose certain composition, standards and labelling requirements which remain unchanged.

However the principal legislation is amended whereby the criminal sanctions for

breaching the regulations are replaced with civil sanctions (i.e. an improvement

notice approach consistent with the Food Safety Act 1990 and other similar

Regulations for food).

The changes are being made in the context of the Government’s Red Tape Challenge. The regulations apply to England only but it is anticipated that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will implement the requirements through their own SI in a way that delivers consistency at a UK level.

Fish and shellfish

There is regulation of the import, export, production and distribution of certain fish and shelfish products; see the FSA pages for further information.


The Honey Regulations (England) regulate the content of what may be described as 'honey', and specify particular types of honey, and contain labelling requirements. Similar regulations apply in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The Honey (England) Regulations have been updated to reflect the latest EU

Directive which amends the EU Directive on Honey. Additionally, as part of the Red Tape Challenge (RTC) commitment, the Honey Regulations were identified as a piece of legislation that would benefit from simplification and consolidation to benefit businesses involved in the production and marketing of honey.

The Honey (England) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015 No. 1348) come into effect on 24 June 2015. The regulationsl:

* replace the Honey (England) Regulations 2003, resulting in the revocation of two existing SIs as well as revoking provisions relating to the 2003 Regulations contained in the Food Information Regulations 2014; these will be replaced with one instrument;

* transpose the EU Honey Directive, as amended by Directive 2014/63/EU.

The objective is to bring the honey provisions together into one Statutory Instrument and provide for an essential labelling change so that the correct terminology is used on honey labels. These should now refer to the European Union (EU) rather than the European Community (EC) when describing the origin of blended honey using one of the indications provided for in Article 2(4) of the EU Honey Directive.

The Regulations are also updated to take account of the amendment of EU Honey Directive by Directive 2014/63/EC which provides clarity on the issue of the status of pollen by making it clear that, from a food regulation perspective, pollen is not to be considered an ingredient of honey and that honey is a single ingredient product rather than a product that contains pollen as one of its ingredients.

The status of pollen as an ingredient was considered by the Court of Justice of the European Union in Case C-442/09, Karl Heinz Bablok and Others v Freistaat Bayern (2011 ECR I-07419). Following that case, Directive 2014/63/EU amended the Honey Directive to make it clear that pollen, as a natural constituent of honey, is not to be considered an ingredient for the purposes of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the provision of food information to consumers. Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 contains horizontal food labelling rules that apply to all foods, including honey. The change made by Directive 2014/63/EU makes it clear that honey is to be regarded as a natural and single ingredient food and does not require pollen to be listed as an ingredient. This allows producers to continue to market honey as they have done in the past.


Meat (including beef, chicken, gsme, pigmeat etc.) is subject to extensive regulation at the livestock, slaughter, processing and distribution levels. Further information is available on the FSA pages.


Wine is regulated at the EU level. For further information on wine import and export, winemaking, labelling and the registration of vineyards, see the releant FSA pages.


28/05/2020: Guidance on producing and labelling natural mineral water

Defra has produced guidance on how to produce and label natural mineral water

How bottled water producers can get a natural mineral water recognised, and rules you need to follow to produce and label. The guidance describes how to use a spring in England to produce natural mineral water and sell the natural mineral water in the UK. Separate guidance is available in relation to use of water from a spring in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Topics covered in the guidance include:

*  What counts as natural mineral water;

*  How to get recognition for a natural mineral water from a spring in England;

*  Evidence you need to gather for recognition;

*  Rules for exploiting the spring;

*  Treatments you can use;

*  Labelling rules

Organic food


The leaf logo (shown in the image) must now appear on all packaged organic foods after a two-year transition period ended on 1 July 2012. Council Regulation (EC) No. 834/2007 of 28 June 2007 applies to the organic production and labelling of organic food.
For further information, see the EU Commission pages on organic farming and food labelling..

28/03/2014: EU Commission proposes new regulation on organic products
Subject: Food business and sales

The European Commission has proposed a new Regulation on organic production and the labelling of organic products.

Materials in contact with food

Tthe Materials and Articles in Contact with Food(England) Regulations 2012 provide a single point of reference for businesses and enforcement authorities by consolidating three main Statutory Instruments on materials and articles intended to come into contact with food into one set of Regulations.Similar regulations apply in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The national 2012 Regulations identify which breaches of EU provisions will constitute an offence and incur penalties, and what constitutes a competent authority, for the following directly applicable European Regulations:

•Regulation 1935/2004 (The 'Framework' Regulation on all food contact materials)
•Regulation 2023/2006 (The 'Good Manufacturing Practice' Regulation)
•Regulation 450/2009 (The 'Active and Intelligent Materials and Articles' Regulation)
•Regulation 10/2011 (The 'Food Contact Plastics' Regulation)
•Regulation 1895/2005 on the use of certain epoxy derivatives

See the FSA’s website for further information.

Enforcement of food legislation

Civil enforcement

Food legislation is enforced mainly by the Environmental Health Departments of local authorities and also at a national level by the FSA.
Improvement notices: under the Food Safety Act 1990 s.10 if an enforcement authority has reasonable grounds for believing that the proprietor of a food business is failing to comply with any regulations regulating the preparation of food or hygienic conditions it may serve on the proprietor an improvement notice. The notice must state the grounds for the notice, the specific failures, the steps required for improvement and a timescale to comply(not being less than 14 days). Failure to comply is an offence.

Criminal enforcement

Tthe General Food Regulations 2004 and the Materials and Articles in Contact with Food (England) Regulations 2012 create UK criminal offences for breaches of certain articles in the General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002 referred to above. Penalties vary according to the specific offence and may include a fine or imprisonment up to two years.

There are due diligence defences for certain of the offences available if a food business operator can prove that he took all reasonable precautions and exercised due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence.

[Page updated: 03/06/2020]

<Back to Regulated businesses list

EU protection of food names>














food standards agency logo