"Not to be sold separately" - why not?
June 23, 2006 8:55 AM   Subscribe

Is the phrase "not to be sold separately", often found on individual food items sold as a multipack, legally binding? If so, why, and if not, what is the point in it being there?
posted by Orange Goblin to Law & Government (12 answers total)
i believe it is there because usually the individual items do not have the nutritional info and ingredient list thus the maker cannot legally sell them like that. IAMAL so i have no idea what happens when the sellers do sell them individually but i would imagine it is not legal.
not much help i guess.
posted by annoyance at 8:58 AM on June 23, 2006

I always thought the text was just there to embarass any shop that tried it ("hey, they're selling 'not to be sold separately' cans here!"), but maybe there's something more to it.
posted by reklaw at 9:03 AM on June 23, 2006

Annoyance has it. "Not for individual sale" is how manufacturers legally avoid having to meet food labelling requirements on each element of a multipack.
posted by mendel at 9:14 AM on June 23, 2006

Best answer: The regulation is 21 CFR 101.9(j)(15). One of the cases for not needing labelling is:
(15) The unit containers in a multiunit retail food package where:
  (i) The multiunit retail food package labeling contains all nutrition information in accordance with the requirements of this section;
  (ii) The unit containers are securely enclosed within and not intended to be separated from the retail package under conditions of retail sale; and
  (iii) Each unit container is labeled with the statement ``This Unit Not Labeled For Retail Sale' in type size not less than 1/16-inch in height, except that this statement shall not be required when the inner unit containers bear no labeling at all. The word ``individual' may be used in lieu of or immediately preceding the word ``Retail' in the statement.
posted by smackfu at 9:17 AM on June 23, 2006

Response by poster: Probably should have mentioned I'm in the UK, but I imagine the answer is pretty much the same. However, now I'm wondering if I have ever seen the phrase on a non-food item, and what the law there would be...
posted by Orange Goblin at 9:31 AM on June 23, 2006

I bought a 3-pack of deodorants from Sainsburys yesterday with "not to be sold separately" on them.
posted by blag at 10:22 AM on June 23, 2006

Response by poster: Ah, in which case the nutritional information can't be the only reason - unless Sainsburys are just following the example set by food packaging?
posted by Orange Goblin at 10:38 AM on June 23, 2006

Multi-packs of cigarettes also say not for individual sale.
posted by nadawi at 10:43 AM on June 23, 2006

IANALawyer, but isn't there a notice on some other products that it is against federal law to use a product against the instructions of its labeling? Wouldn't this apply to all of them, then?
posted by vanoakenfold at 10:44 AM on June 23, 2006

Multi-packs of cigarettes also say not for individual sale.
that is... multi-packs by 2s or 3s, but not cartons... The reason for the multi-packs is that they're sold to the retailer at a lower price-per-pack than normal, usually as some soft of special promotion. I've heard tell that these packs are rounded up from the older stock of cigarettes, but thats just a rumor.

Most stores that sell cigarettes by the pack buy them in cartons... the price difference between buying as a carton or by pack is the retailer's markup. (lower volume stores may have a third party company stock their cigarettes... think "mom 'n pop" stores)

(I am not a smoker, but am the son of a mom 'n pop store)
posted by hatsix at 11:26 AM on June 23, 2006

In the U.S., even deodorant has to have ingredients labelling, so the multipack disclaimer would apply there as well ( after all, one can be just as allergic to whatever is in the deodorant as you can to whatever is in the candy bar or whatever...)
posted by lhauser at 10:28 PM on June 23, 2006

It is a price control mechanism.

It doesn't matter what the law is because the supplier has a good chance of catching you breaking bulk packs up. Like when a customer calls them to ask this question. Suppliers don't have to sell to you if they don't want to, and if you don't have stock you don't have sales.

Of course there are labeling regulations too..
posted by Chuckles at 11:27 PM on June 23, 2006

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