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GUIDANCE NOTES FOR PRODUCERS, CATERERS AND RETAILERS ON THE LABELLING OF SANDWICHES

This leaflet has been prepared for the guidance of traders by the Northern Counties Chief Trading Standards Officers Group. It is not an authoritative document on the law and is only intended for guidance. 

 

WHAT PRODUCTS ARE COVERED BY THESE NOTES?

The term "sandwich" includes filled rolls, baps, baguettes, pittas and other similar products.

 

WHEN IS LABELLING REQUIRED?

In summary:

 

WHAT LABELLING IS REQUIRED?

With certain exceptions prepacked sandwiches are required to be labelled with:

Most non-prepacked sandwiches and sandwiches prepacked for direct sale will require virtually no labelling under the Food Labelling Regulations 1996.

However, names or descriptions applied will have to comply with the provisions of the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 which prohibit false or misleading labels, descriptions and advertisements.

Non-prepacked sandwiches and sandwiches prepacked for direct sale must declare the category names of the additives which they contain e.g. preservative, antioxidant, colour, flavouring sweetener or flavour enhancer.

If sandwich ingredients have been irradiated, or genetically modified, this fact must always be declared either on the label or by means of an accompanying notice.

 

WHAT IS AN APPROPRIATE NAME OF THE FOOD?

The name of the food is a key labelling requirement for the majority of pre-packed food. It can take the form of:

or

or

 

FORM OF NAME OF CERTAIN SANDWICHES

Certain products have legal compositional standards. The names of these products can only be used if the ingredient complies with the legal standard. Examples of such products include many meat and fish products such as pates, spreads, sausages, burgers and corned beef, and a number of hard cheeses such as Cheddar, Gloucester and Stilton.

Most sandwiches are packaged in a way that gives the consumer some visual information about the product. The consumer can, for example, usually see whether white or brown bread has been used, and in such circumstances it is not essential for the type of bread to be specified in the product name. There is, of course, no reason why the type of bread should not be given if it is desired to do so. This may be appropriate if wholemeal, oatmeal or malted brown bread is used or if nuts or sesame seeds are included.

The nature of the filling is probably the most important factor that determines whether a consumer purchases a sandwich. The name used must, therefore, be as precise as is necessary to inform the consumer about the nature of the filling, and ensure that the consumer is not confused or misled. There is no requirement for the name to reiterate the ingredients list but the name should describe the product and inform the consumer about the key characterising ingredients e.g. "roast ham with mustard".

As a general rule the way in which the ingredients are named by ingredients suppliers will act as a guide to how the sandwich itself should be described.

Ingredient names should not be changed or "enhanced". For example:

Certain products have legal compositional standards. The names of these products can only be used if the ingredient complies with the legal standard. Examples of such products include many meat and fish products such as pates, spreads, sausages, burgers and corned beef and a number of hard cheeses such as Cheddar, Gloucester and Stilton.

 

HOW DO I LIST INGREDIENTS?

Where a list of ingredients is required the list (prefaced by the word "Ingredients") must be in descending order by weight at the time the sandwich was prepared. This must match the product specification or recipe if one exists. In other cases producers should be able to look for assistance to their ingredient suppliers.

Because of the nature of sandwich making it is generally accepted that ingredient proportions given on labels will be "typical" values averaged across a batch of sandwiches of the same variety. Sandwich producers and sellers should, however, be able to demonstrate that they have assessed the averages and that they have management systems in place to control ingredient proportions as accurately as is practicable given the facilities and technology available. They should also have clearly defined product specifications that set out the order and quantity of ingredients listed.

The name used for an ingredient must be the name that could be used if the ingredient was itself being sold as a food.

The ingredients of compound ingredients have to be listed unless the compound ingredient constitutes less than 25% of the finished product, in which case if a compound ingredient comprises less than 25% of the finished product, additives in the compound ingredient have to be listed, e.g. colours, preservatives, sweeteners etc. For example, (contains colour, preservatives), vegetable spread.

 

WHAT DATE MARK SHOULD I APPLY?

A "use by" date for products with fillings which are highly perishable and from the microbiological point of view likely after a short period of time to constitute an immediate danger to public health, e.g. egg, fish, pates, mayonnaise, meats, soft cheese etc. A "best before " date for products with much less perishable fillings etc. jam, honey, peanut butter, hard cheeses. In practice most sandwiches will require a "use by" date and if an ingredient is labelled with a "use by" date the sandwich made from it should also have a "use by" date.

The date mark must state the date up to and including that which the product will remain in good condition in terms of the day and month, e.g. "use by 30 May". If the product has to be stored in a particular manner to remain in good condition until expiry of the date mark then storage instructions must accompany the date mark e.g. "keep refrigerated", this may be accompanied by the maximum storage temperature.

The expiry of "use by" date mark is midnight at the end of the date stated.

It is an offence both to alter a "use by" date and to sell foodstuffs after its "use by" date has expired.

 

HOW MUST THIS INFORMATION BE GIVEN?

For sandwiches which are not prepacked or are prepacked for direct sale the information when it is required must be marked:

or

For prepacked sandwiches the required information must be marked:

The required information must be marked in a conspicuous place and be easy to understand, indelible, clearly legible and not hidden, obscured or interrupted by other written or pictorial matter.

The name of the food and the date mark must appear in the same field of vision.

 

WHAT OTHER INFORMATION MUST I GIVE?

Nutrition information must be given in relation to prepacked sandwiches if a nutrition claim is made, and may be given voluntarily in other cases. Whenever nutrition information is given, it must be in the form specified in the regulations. A nutrition claim is a statement, claim or suggestion made in connection with the product, whether on labelling, in promotion or at point of sale, e.g. "low fat", "high fibre".

 

WHAT OTHER LEGISLATION MIGHT APPLY?

The Food Safety Act 1990 and the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 prohibit false or misleading labels, descriptions and advertisements. These are in addition to the specific provisions of the Food Labelling Regulations and also cover menus and blackboard descriptions.

For example: it would not be appropriate to use the phrase "freshly made today" if the product was prepared the day before or "made only from local ingredients" if ingredients were sourced from a totally different geographical location.

 

OTHER INFORMATION

If it is not possible from the name of the food or from the list of ingredients to establish that an ingredient contains nuts or nut residues (e.g. through the use of vegetable oil) it would be good practice though not a legal requirement to include the warning "This sandwich may contain nut products". This will alert consumers who are susceptible to health threatening allergic reactions to the possible presence of nut products.

 

October 2000


North Yorkshire County Council

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