Online And Distance Selling

Whether you are selling from home or selling from premises, there are rules you should implement before selling food online. You must provide safety, traceability, withdrawal and recall procedures.

Ignorance of the law is not a defence.

The Food Information Regulations 2014, state that businesses have a responsibility to provide accurate allergen information to all customers that request it.

The consequences of poor allergen control can be Death, Food allergies can kill.

Use in conjunction with

Distance selling means – selling either by

  1. Online
  2. Text messaging
  3. Telephone
  4. Interactive TV
  5. Mail order
  6. Websites
  7. Social media pages
  8. Online marketplaces
  9. Catalogues
  10. Newspapers
  11. Leaflets

(Source Government website)

Setting Up – you must:

  • Business must be registered 28 days before opening, with the environmental health.
  • Name of food on the packet
  • List of Ingredients
  • List in bold allergens
  • Quantity of ingredients
  • Net ingredients
  • Use by date.
  • Special storage conditions e.g., store in a fridge
  • Name and address of business
  • Instructions for use
  • Nutrition declaration
  • Food hygiene certification
  • Inspection of premises

Delivery of foods sent by post or courier – all foods must be delivered in a way that ensures that it remains fit for human consumption. Foods that need refrigerating should be delivered as quickly as possible, ideally overnight, and may require packing in an insulated box with a coolant gel, or in a cool bag. Any packaging should be capable of protecting the food against mechanical damage and sources of contamination while it is in transit.

(Source text Trafford Gov UK)

Examples non-prepacked food sold online is packed for direct sale or supply to consumers.

  • Supermarket deli counters and bakeries
  • Pizza shops
  • Fish and chip shops
  • Chinese or Indian restaurants
  • Butchers that supply ‘meat boxes’
  • Traders or growers that supply ‘fruit and vegetable boxes’
  • Menu planning/recipe box services
  • Businesses that make food such as bread, cakes, chocolates, juices, and ethnic food at home and sell directly to the consumer online

These non-prepacked foods ruling changes in October 2021 see Natasha’s law below.

You must adhere to distance selling is the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. This applies to all goods sold by distance selling and selling food. You must provide:

  • The information which the seller needs to provide to the purchase before making the sale.
  • Rights to cancel the contract.
  • Recovery of sums paid on cancellation.
  • Restoration of goods by the consumer after cancellation.

Excellent Allergen Information VS Extremely Poor Allergen Information

Excellent – Sacred Chow

Thank you to Sacred Chow for permission to use their website for comparison, please check out their website.

  1. Allergen Link on every page
  2. Comprehensive information and contact details.
  3. Breakdown of allergens in each dish.
  4. FSA rating 5 – premises checked, and food courses taken
  5. Information about the company, giving credibility
  6. Trustpilot ratings
  7. Traceability of food
  8. Established company
  9. Website, taken time to portray their product
Allergen link on every page
Comprehensive information and contact details.
Breakdown of allergens in each dish.

Extremely Poor – Social Media Advert

  1. No allergen warnings
  2. No ingredients
  3. No sell/use by date
  4. No FSA rating, premises not checked, and no food courses taken
  5. Only contact details is via social media chat
  6. No information about the company
  7. No ratings
  8. No traceability of food
  9. No proof if established company
  10. No website
Social Media
Description of food – no other information

It is advisable to have liability insurance.

Distance selling, mail order and delivery Gov UK

Food safety inspections and enforcement

Food policy eBay

Amazon selling food.

Food safety inspections and enforcement

EU Business Companion website

The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002

labelling (Article 9 of the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No.1169/11)

Nutrition and health claims: guidance to compliance with Regulation (EC) 1924/2006

Advice to businesses selling food online.

Food Sold Online Guidance for local authorities.

Selling and buying food online – Q&A

Natasha’s legacy becomes law Gov UK

Natasha’s Law Checklist Nutrictics


Packaging and labelling Legal requirements that you have to follow as a food business Gov UK

Precautionary allergen labelling FSA

Artisan Food Law

This information is only given as guidance and not extensive. Information to be used at individual’s responsibility. Always seek medical advice.

© All material on these pages, including without limitation text, logos, icons, photographs, and all other artwork is copyright material of British Food Allergy Awareness, unless otherwise stated.