Distance Selling Requirements

2 weeks ago | 3 mins

Food Business Operators (FBOs) are required to make the same level of information available online as per the food labelling that a consumer would see in the retail environment, before the purchase is made.

For example, when selling non pre-packed food online, the name of the food; allergens present in the food, a meat content declaration; an irradiated food statement and a GM foods statement must be provided where applicable. Any claims made must be true. The information must be available before an online purchase is made.

For example, when selling pre-packed food online, the same mandatory particulars required for prepacked foods in the retail environment (with the exception of a minimum durability indication and a date of freezing) will also be required on any website, at no extra cost to consumers, before they make an online purchase.

Mandatory food labelling information (Article 9 of the EU FIC Regulation No.1169/2011)

FBOs selling non prepacked food through distance means must ensure that mandatory allergen information is available to the consumer (for free):

  • before the purchase is concluded; and
  • at the moment of delivery.

Whatever the chosen method of presentation, the FBO must always ensure that the allergen information is current and accurate.

The allergen information must be provided without any supplementary costs being charged to the customer by the FBO (e.g. premium line phone numbers).

Where FBOs use food delivery Apps where customers order and pay – this is a distance sale. Allergen information should be made available in some form to the consumer, before the purchase is concluded and at the moment of delivery.

Examples of ways of providing allergen information at the time of order include:

  • the customer is signposted to where accurate information can be obtained in writing (e.g. an online menu); or
  •  staff provide the allergen information orally by telephone whilst referring to the written information.

To ensure that current and accurate allergen information is provided, the food business could ask the customer if allergen information is required before the order is taken on the telephone or online. Ways of providing written allergen information at the time of delivery include:

  • placing stickers on food containers to clearly identify food and allergenic ingredients used in that food (e.g. Chicken satay: ‘Contains: wheat, soy, fish, peanut’); or
  • a menu is provided with the order which allows the customer to clearly identify allergenic ingredients in the food, along with clear names, or other appropriate cross references on food containers;
  • written allergen information is presented to the customer, by the member of staff from the business delivering the food together with a means to clearly link the written information to each food item.

Please note: the requirement is for mandatory allergen information to be available to the customer upon delivery. Being available is different to being physically provided.

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