Food Standards for Consumers

We ensure that food standards are complied with so shoppers can be confident in the food that they buy

What are food standards?

Food Standards laws are complex and numerous. They exist to control the composition, quality, labelling, advertising and presentation of food.

Trading Standards, as a local food authority, is required by the Food Safety Act 1990 to make sure that businesses comply with the law in relation to:

  • The labelling and advertising of food
  • The composition of food
  • The nature, substance and quality of food
  • False and misleading claims about food
  • The food standards checks that we make ensure that the information provided on a food label is accurate and truthful.

For example, we verify claims such as 'local', 'homemade', 'fresh', 'natural', 'organic' and 'free-range'. We check the nutritional information, such as salt, sugar and fat levels. We check that what is in the food is as it is declared on the label, and within minimum legal requirements."

What do I do if I find food being sold which is past its durability date?

Most foods should be labelled with a 'use by' or a 'best before' date. A 'sell by' date is information for the retailer and doesn't have any legal status.

Food sold past its best before date may not be at its optimum quality, but there is unlikely to be a food safety risk from consuming the food. It is not a criminal offence to sell food beyond its best before date. Some shops have a 'reduced' section for foods like crisps, biscuits and canned foods where the best before date has expired.

It is an offence to sell food past it's use by date. Food labelled with a use by date is food which may be harmful to health if it is consumed after this date. Foods required to be labelled with a use by date are generally those found in the chiller sections such as dairy, meat, poultry and fish products. Both Environmental Health and Trading Standards enforce this law and we liaise with each other. 

If you have a complaint or an enquiry about food you have purchased.

If your complaint or enquiry is about the composition or labelling of the food, then please contact us on 03454 040506 to report a problem or ask for advice.

Food safety and hygiene matters are dealt with by our colleagues in Environmental Health.