How responsible are we as a Drinks manufacturer & exporter for the content of labels applied by our distributorts in their own markets?


We currently export to a number of markets where we send UK labelled stock and our local distributors apply their own labels (with key information such as ingredients & contact details).

We sell a number of products with multi-lingual labels which we create ourselves and take the necessary precautions to ensure that al the information is translated & presented correctly. However, where labels are applied locally we currently have no input or opportunity to check the details (either because we are not 100% sure which markets end up applying these labels, or because the languages are more complicated – such as Arabic or Chinese).

To what extent are we responsible if the label that is applied locally turns out to be wrong, and in a worse case scenario leads to the illness of a consumer because of incorrect allergen information?

Can we just get our distributors so sign a letter stating that they are responsible for making sure products are legal in their own countries? What “reasonable” precautions do we as the export need to take to ensure that our distributors don’t misrepresent our products?

Ultimately we are looking to avoid the situation where an error made by our distributor leads to our business being taken to court.


You can’t just absolve yourself of responsibility just because a letter is signed by someone else i.e. it does not cover your arse. The law of the land will prevail and you should take legal advise in each market accodingly.


Hi. This is more of a legal question and I come across this in my day job as a solicitor.

If you have a distributor agreement, there should/ought to have provisions for the distributor to comply with local laws, And to indemnify you for any losses. So far so good.

However, the national law of the country applies in so far as any claim is made. If the country’s laws put the onus on the maker of the drinks, then you will be prosecuted (either in civil and/or criminal sanction).

I do work with companies with this sort of problems and it is useful to have a local lawyer in that country who can provide an opinion as to the various sanctions that may be applicable to you (the maker) in that particular country. But before you do that, you need to ensure that your agreement is up to scratch.

If you need any further help, contact me. My details are on my profile.


Hi you should have a distribution agreement in place.
You will have referenced clauses that insist that any labels applied to your products must be agreed by you.
if that means taking their language and having it translated , so that they don’t hood wink you so be it.
you as the manufacturer will be liable under any law, so make sure your distributor conforms to your signed agreement.

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