Food Standards relates to the quality, composition, labelling,
presentation and advertising of all food and of materials or articles in contact with
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Environmental
Health Department carries out routine food standards
inspections of all food businesses within the Borough and responds
The Environmental Health Officers monitor food standards in the
Borough’s food businesses by:
- inspecting food premises to check menu descriptions, claims and
- checking food labels, composition, additive levels, and
materials and articles in contact with food
- checking on 'use by' and 'best before' dates
- taking samples of food and drink for analysis
- investigating complaints about food and food premises
- offering advice to consumers and businesses
Inspection and sampling
Environmental Health Officers carry out programmed inspections
and sampling throughout the food chain, from farm through to
manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. We aim to ensure the
composition, quality, labelling, advertising and presentation of
food complies with legal requirements. The checks we perform ensure
- consumers know what they are buying
- labels are truthful
- food products comply with legal minimum standards where
- additives included in food products are within the permitted
Advice to businesses
We respond to enquiries from local retailers and manufacturers
who need guidance on the composition and labelling of their
products, and provide advice to help businesses comply with the
law. Guidance for businesses on food labelling
regulations is available on the Food
Standards Agency website.
Advice to businesses is available at the
Food Standards Legislation
Food standards legislation helps to ensure that
the consumer is not mislead. In England, the Food Standards
Agency has responsibility for food safety-related labelling issues;
see the Food Standards Agency website.
The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is
responsible for labelling policy on issues other than food safety
and nutrition. See the
For general labelling enquiries, please call the Defra
helpline on: 08459 33 55 77 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Quality is associated with that which the purchaser of a food
product might generally expect. It is advisable that
manufacturers develop a quality assurance system to allow
consistency in the quality of their product. They should also have
arrangements in place for dealing with consumer complaints.
Composition looks at the ingredients of any food product,
and recipes should be devised to ensure that the subsequent product
fulfils all statutory requirements regarding composition, for
- maximum levels of preservatives in sausage meat
- minimum fat content in milk
- minimum meat content of meat products
Materials and articles in contact with food
Materials in contact with food are checked by Environmental
Health Officers to ensure they meet specified standards. Items
routinely checked include crockery/cutlery, equipment, disposable
food containers, and packaging.
Labelling of food is necessary to provide consumers with
sufficient information to enable them to make an informed choice,
and then to handle, store and prepare the food safely. It is an
offence to sell foods that are not properly labelled, or are
labelled in a way that is misleading to consumers.
Generally, pre-packed products must be labelled with the
- the name of the food
- a list of ingredients in descending weight order, including
- an indication of minimum durability ('use by' or 'best
- special storage conditions (for example store under
- the name and address of the manufacturer
- origin of the food
- instructions for use (such as cooking instructions)
Food that is sold unwrapped, such as some bread, food from
a cooked food counter, and burgers or sausages in a butchers
shop, don't carry an ingredients list. A ticket or notice
nearby must show its proper name, and the type of any main
additives in it, such as 'contains preservatives'. A guide to
the most common food labelling terms is available on the
'Use by' dates
The 'use by' date is a clear instruction that food must be used
by that date. This date coding applies to highly perishable foods
which could become a food safety risk over short time periods (such
as cooked meat, pre-packed sandwiches, milk, and chilled ready
prepared meals). Consuming food after this date could put you
and your family at risk from food poisoning.
It is illegal for businesses to sell food at any time after
its use by date, or to alter the date without the
manufacturers permission. If you see such items you can tell
the proprietor of the business of their legal obligation.
If you purchase an item of food past its use by date you can
either return the item to the premises or contact us at
Environmental Health Line
It should be noted that officers from the Environmental Health
Department check for the presence of such foods on sale after the
'use by' date has expired during routine unannounced
'Best before' dates
This date mark indicates the date before which food is at its
best. It is applicable to most foods other than highly perishable
ones (such as frozen food, dried foods like cereals, canned foods
like soup and baked beans, and crisps and confectionery). After
this date food may still be edible and not dangerous to eat,
but the appearance and quality may suffer (for
example crisps may become soft).
The best before date will only be applicable if stored according
to the instructions on the label such as 'store in a cool dry
place' or 'keep in fridge once opened'.
It is not an offence for businesses to sell or use food past its
'best before' date, however, if the food is unfit or of poor
quality an offence may have been committed, and you can
highlight the product to the proprietor of the business, or return
'Sell by' date and 'display until' dates
Both 'sell by' and 'display until' dates are for retailers'
information. They are used by some shops to help staff know
when they need to take food products of the shelves. It is the
manufacturers or shops choice if they want to put a 'sell by'
or 'display until' date on packaged food, and it is not
against the law to sell food after such date.
It should be noted that generally this date will be accompanied
with an appropriately recognised durability date such as a 'use by'
or 'best before' date.
Some foods do not have to carry a date mark. These foods
are normally bought for use within a very short period of time and
it is clear when the quality is deteriorating. This applies to
fresh fruit, vegetables and some cakes.
Food which is not pre-packed is unlikely to carry a date mark,
(such as meat from a butcher). Other foods include
alcoholic drinks, sugar, salt and vinegar which last for such a
long time that a date mark is not necessary.
The word organic is used to describe food grown without most
artificial fertilisers or pesticides and in a way that emphasises
crop rotation, making the most of natural fertilisers and ensuring
that the life of soil is maintained.
Manufacturers of organic food are permitted to use some approved
non-organic products, as long as 95% of the ingredients are
organic. Read more about organic food on the Defra
People with food allergies have to be careful what they eat, and
rely on food labels to make sure the ingredients are
safe for them to eat. For advice on allergen labelling visit the
Standards Agency website.
Genetically modified food
If a food contains or consists of genetically modified
organisms, or contains ingredients produced from genetically
modified organisms, this must be indicated on the label. For more
information on the sales, testing and safety of GM foods, visit the
Feed hygiene regulations
Animal feed plays an important part in the food chain and has
implications for the composition and quality of the livestock
products (milk, meat and eggs) that people consume. For information
on feed composition and labelling see the
Food Standards Agency website.