Labelling & Health marks

Up to now, the UK has been an integral part of the EU food law system. However, even if our standards remain the same, changes will need to be made to labels and paperwork to reflect our new non-EU member status.

Labelling

There will be changes to food labelling after Brexit, either immediately in a no-deal situation or after any agreed transition period. It will no longer be permitted for UK food to be labelled as a product of the EU. Furthermore, EU licence numbers for meat and poultry processing establishments will need to be changed, as will the carcase stamps and food labels on the meat and packaging processed in these establishments.

Defra’s guidance on food labelling is here: gov.uk/guidance/food-labelling-changes-after-brexit

At the moment, there are some areas for which no definitive answer can be given until a deal is agreed (or a no deal is confirmed).

It is likely that composition standards and general labelling rules will remain unchanged for the time being. The latest government guidance can be found here

General food labelling and composition: gov.uk/guidance/food-standards-labelling-durability-and-composition

Meat products labelling and composition: gov.uk/guidance/meat-products-sell-them-legally-in-england

It depends on where you are selling the product. The UK government has declared a 21-month transition period to allow products sold in the UK to adjust to new rules.

However, there is no transition within the EU. There may perhaps be some initial leniency in practice but the only way to be sure of clearing customs will be to apply the new rules immediately after the Brexit date.

Yes, if the goods have reached the EU before the Brexit changeover, they are considered to be ‘on the market’ and can still be sold.

You can apply over-stickers to your existing packs if that is a better solution for you.

It is unlikely. They are however subject to inspection by local trading standards officers.

Yes, there will be a three-year transition period for these logos. There will also be a new UK geographical indicator scheme and companies will be able to phase in the new logos over this period.

Government guidance on this topic is available here:
gov.uk/guidance/protecting-food-and-drink-names-if-theres-no-brexit-deal

Organic Food

No, they cannot be sold as organic until the EU has granted an ‘equivalency agreement’ to the UK. They can however be sold as conventional produce.   

Government guidance is available here: gov.uk/guidance/trading-and-labelling-organic-food-if-theres-no-brexit-deal

The UK government will try to expedite the process but no-one yet knows how long this will take.

No, this logo will no longer be valid for UK-produced foods. Enforcement officers in the UK will probably be pragmatic about this in the short term, particularly for products already on the market but you should phase it out as soon as possible.

The UK government will develop a replacement logo but there is no declared timescale for this yet. You can use your own design to declare the product as organic or a certification mark, such as from the Soil Association.

Yes, because the UK will automatically drop out of some equivalency agreements previously negotiated by the EU. Contact your organic certification body for the latest status and advice.

Health Marks

There will be additional procedures to follow.

This is set out in guidance from Defra for animals, animal products, fish and fish products: gov.uk/guidance/exporting-animals-animal-products-fish-and-fishery-products-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-with-no-deal

Please see the FSA Update on Health and Identification Marks, which informs businesses about changes that will need to be made to the health and identification (ID) marks on certain food products of animal origin (POAO) after the UK leaves the EU.

Following the Food Standards Agency’s discussions with the European Commission, and agreement with Defra the final design for the new health and ID marks has now been agreed.

  1. Exporting POAO to the EU: Health and ID marks must carry: either the official two-digit ISO Code ‘GB’ or the full country name in capital letters ‘UNITED KINGDOM’.
  2. Exporting POAO to a Non-EU Country: For businesses that export POAO to a non-EU country, the revised GB or UNITED KINGDOM marks may be used. In addition, health and ID marks with the UK abbreviation will also be acceptable for exports to non-EU countries from Brexit date.
  3. POAO placed on the UK Domestic Market: Health and ID marks must carry: either the ‘UK’ abbreviation; the ‘GB’ abbreviation; or the full country name in capital letters ‘UNITED KINGDOM’.

FSA states that, in a no-deal scenario, the revised form of the health and ID marks must be used when the UK ceases to be a Member State of the EU, for products that are exported to the EU or Non-EU countries.

For products placed on the UK domestic market, the FSA has introduced a statutory instrument that will allow the continued use of the EC identification mark applied to POAO for 21 months after the UK leaves the EU.