As more food producers move to selling their foods online, also called “Distance Selling” whether using their own e-commerce site, via facebook, taking orders via SMS, phone, interactive TV, or supplying via on-line shops such as Amazon and others, its essential that labelling compliance is not overlooked. In summary, the same rules apply to foods sold online as they would if your customer walked into a shop to buy it in person.
For foods that are normally pre-packed, i.e, in packaging, the following rules apply:
(a) mandatory food information is still required (I covered in a previous post about food labels back in April), except for the date of minimum durability or use by date, and it must be available before the purchase is concluded and must appear either on the packaging (or it can be provided somewhere else, but you cannot charge your customers any extra for sending them elsewhere to get the information!).
(b) all mandatory particulars, including the use by or best before date, must be on the foods when they are delivered to the customer, i.e, on their doorstep!
For non pre-packed foods, the law requires the food business operator to provide information of any allergen in that food. (Again, if there is more information available to your Customer elsewhere, you can direct them there, but cannot charge them any extra for doing so).
In my opinion, the best and easiest thing to do is ensure you treat your online sales the same way as you would for sales through any retail outlet.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has good information in this regard for Irish producers. The Food Standards Agency also has great information here for UK producers.
I am really encouraging small food and drink producers to set up their own e-commerce site. In Ireland, there is a 90% grant available at the moment for doing this, its called a On-Line Trading Voucher. Check it out today! And when you’ve got it set up, let me know and I’ll add you to the Directory on oonagheats.com