From 1 October 2021, the food labelling requirements for foods which are prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) will change in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The changes will require the packaging or labels of PPDS foods sold in England to display the following information clearly:
- name of the food;
- full ingredients list; with
- allergenic ingredients emphasised – for example, in bold, italics or a different colour.
The requirements in respect of other non-prepacked foods are unaffected by the changes.
Prepacked food is classed as 'any single item for presentation as such to the final consumer and to mass caterers, consisting of a food and the packaging into which it was put before being offered for sale, whether such packaging encloses the food completely or only partially, but in any event in such a way that the contents cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging'. It does not cover foods packed on the sales premises at the consumer's request or prepacked for direct sale.
PPDS food is food that is packed before being offered for sale by the same food business to the final consumer on the same site, the same premises or if the food is offered for sale from moveable and/or temporary premises and the food is offered for sale by the same food business which packed it.
FSA guidance sets out three essential criteria for food to be considered PPDS:
- is the food presented to the consumer in its packaging (completely or partially enclosed and cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging)?
- is the food packaged before the consumer selects or orders it?
- is the food packaged at the same site or premises it is sold?
Examples of PPDS foods include:
- sandwiches placed into packaging by the food business and sold from the same premises;
- a café giving away packaged samples of a new range of cakes they have made on the same premises;
- pizzas/boxed salads packaged by a supermarket on the premises and sold from the same premises.
Failure by a Food Business Operator to provide the correct allergenic information on PPDS constitutes an offence and may result in a criminal prosecution. Such a failure may be prosecuted as an offence contrary to regulation 10 of FIR (as amended) or regulation 19 of the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations 2013.
A person convicted of an offence will be liable to an unlimited fine and where the offence prosecuted is the latter the court will have to apply the mandatory Sentencing Guideline for Health and Safety, Corporate Manslaughter and Food Safety / Hygiene Offences. Given Tesco's fine in April 2021 for food safety offences, food businesses would be well advised to implement procedures and measures to ensure they are providing requisite allergen information to consumers.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.