Webinar “Impact of Brexit on Food Labelling”

12th August 2020

From the 1st January 2021, European Union (EU) law will no longer apply in the United Kingdom, following Brexit (31st January 2020) and end of the transition period (31st December 2020). Withdrawal will affect all areas where EU has had a legislative role including food safety.

Since the 2000s, following several human food and animal feed crises (e.g. ‘Mad Cow Disease’) UK food safety policy has been governed mainly at the European level to ensure better harmonisation across Member States (MS). EU regulations do not prevent MS from imposing national legislation, provided these also comply with European law.

Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers (FIC) entered into application on 13 December 2014. It covers all stages along the food chain related to production, processing, and distribution of food in the EU. For instance, FIC requires nutrition information be provided directly on packaging and mandates minimum font size and presentation of details, such as name of the food business operator (FBO) and origin. Thus, what is going to happen once FIC is no longer applied in the UK?

Significant legislative changes are not expected for the sake of Europe-wide food businesses, since different labelling requirements would translate into millions of additional (and unnecessary) costs. However, FBOs could be forced to comply with extra requirements:

  • Name or business name and address of importer or UK FBO must be included

  • Country of origin labelling might continue for mixed foods, eggs, organic products, minced meat, fruit and vegetables, blended honeys and olive oil as well as beef and veal. Therefore, since it would be misleading and inaccurate to label a product containing ingredients from the UK as EU, origins may be specified as UK and/or Non-UK for minced meat and fruit and vegetables; blend from more than one country for honeys and olive oils. However, Spanish and Italian olive oil producers have rejected this as likely to undermine their market presence in UK supermarkets.

  • Protected geographical indications and designations of origin will be protected by the UK but there might be a new logo for UK products, e.g. Stilton cheese.

Many questions remain unanswered with the ongoing negotiations. The UK Association of Chief Trading Standards Officers has encouraged adoption of a pragmatic approach to facilitate smooth transition to the new British legal framework and, for its part, the UK Food Standards Agency has launched a public consultation to gather stakeholders’ opinions.

The webinar “Impact of Brexit on Food Labelling” was organized by Squire Patton Boggs and hosted by Food Drink Federation.

Squire Patton Boggs is a full-service global law firm. Founded in Washington DC, the firm has offices in 20 countries across four continents and provides legal skills and business advice. For more information: https://www.squirepattonboggs.com/en/

Food Drink Federation represents the UK food and drink industry, the largest manufacturing sector in the country. FDF aims to respond to issues and challenges shaping the world in which its members operate. For more information: https://www.fdf.org.uk/home.aspx/>

Tags: Brexit, Labelling, Webinar

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