An Overview of Post-Brexit Food and Non-Food Labelling

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31 December 2020 marks the end of an 11-month transition period for Brexit. How are labels of food and non-food products going to change? And is 31 December a hard deadline for all cases?

Here is an overview to help you understand what’s going to happen.

Four general principles that will apply to all UK businesses exporting to the EU from on 1 January 2020.

  • After Brexit, trade between the EU and the UK will be regulated by import/export rules. These may be more or less demanding depending on the (still uncertain) outcome of trade negotiations
  • In October 2020, the UK and the EU signed a protocol to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland. According to this protocol, NI will still follow EU rules on standards and labelling, although it remains part of the UK
  • UK products exported to the EU/EEA will have to replace ‘Made in the EU’ (or one of its variations) with ‘Made in the UK’
  • After Brexit, the EU and UK will continue to share the same quality standards. The British Standards Institution (BSI), the reference for standards in many industries (including food), will remain part of the European Standards body (CEN) even without a trade deal

Labelling Changes for Food Products

For food products produced in GB and sold in the EU or NI, 1 January 2021 is a hard deadline for labelling changes, although products already on the market before that date can continue to circulate with the old labelling.

For food products produced in GB or imported from the EU to be sold in GB, the transition period will end on 30 September 2022. Until that date, ‘Origin: EU’ can still be used on food labels.

Food Business Operator (FBO) address

From next year, food operators based in GB will have to either open a legal entity in the EU or in NI, or else designate an EU-based importer. Operators based in NI can continue to appear on food labels as before.

FBOs on pre-packaged foods or caseins sold in GB can continue to have an address in the EU, NI, or GB until 30 September 2022. After that date, similar rules will apply to products imported into GB.

Country of Origin

In the EU, certain categories of foodstuff such as meat, fruit and vegetables, olive oil, fish, honey, wine, and eggs must indicate the exact country of origin. However, in some cases, regulations allow ‘EU’, ‘non-EU’, or a combination of both.

For those exceptions, there are three important changes from 1 January 2021:

  • Food produced in GB for the EU and NI markets must not be labelled as ‘Origin: EU’
  • Food produced in NI can continue to be labelled as ‘Origin: EU’
  • Food produced in GB and sold in GB can continue to be labelled as ‘Origin: EU’ until 30 September 2022.

For some food categories, such as eggs, olive oil and honey  blends, additional rules apply.

EU Health and Identification marks & use of EU emblem

From 1 January 2021, the rules concerning Health identification marks will change. These marks are used to identify the processor of products of animal origin (POAO) for tracing and safety purposes.

Organic products & use of logo

From 2021, organic food produced in GB can no longer display the EU Organic emblem. More importantly, until the EU assigns ‘equivalence status’ to UK standards, organic producers may not be able to export their products to the EU at all. This ‘equivalence status’ is still a point of discussion and at the time of writing the outcome is not yet known.

By contrast, organic food produced in the EU will continue to be accepted in the UK after 1 January 2021.

Protected Geographical Status Changes (GI Logos)

The EU protected food name scheme enables consumers to identify foods with clear regional provenance. Here’s a summary of the changes after the end of the transition period:

  • Existing protected products will be protected under the UK GI scheme. Producers will have 3 years to adopt the new UK logos
  • Products that are protected in the whole island of Ireland, such as Irish Whiskey, Irish Cream, and Irish Poteen, will be protected both by EU and UK GI schemes
  • NI producers will have to use the EU logos if a product is registered under the EU GI scheme. If the product is part of the UK GI scheme, the use of the UK logo is optional
  • GI products that are protected in the EU can continue to use the EU logo in the UK

Labelling Changes for Household Products

Examples of household (non-edible) products are: cosmetics, electricals and electronics, fireworks, personal protective equipment, textiles and toys.

Generic requirements

Responsible person. For specific product categories (e.g. cosmetic, or products bearing a CE mark), labels will need to indicate details of an authorised product representative resident in the market they are sold in.

General product safety. The EU General Product Safety Directive 2001/95/EC (GPSD) ensures that businesses only sell safe products and that consumers are informed about specific risks. It covers all product categories, except when these have specific regulations, for example pharmaceuticals, medical devices or food.

In the UK, this directive is implemented by The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (GPSR), which will apply to products being sold in the UK from 1 January 2021. Where there’s crossover with the GPSR/GPSD, the product-specific legislation usually takes precedence.

CE and UKCA markings.  In the EU market, the CE mark is compulsory on many products, especially devices, regardless of the country of production.

From 1 January 2021, how CE and UKCA markings are used will change.

Labelling changes for formulated products

From 1 January 2021, the CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging) regulation for the classification and labelling of substances and mixtures will be translated into the GB CLP Regulation. Labelling rules will continue as they are, although that may change over time.

From 1 January 2021, the UK will adopt its own Prior Informed Consent (PIC) regulation for the import and export of certain hazardous chemicals.

Cosmetics

Companies will need distinct product information files (PIF) for the UK and the EU. This might require relabelling those products currently registered both for the United Kingdom/European Union since the location of the Responsible Person and PIF must be identified in both cases.

Electrical and electronic products

In addition to the changes related to the CE/UKCA mandatory compliance markings and the Responsible Person (RP) details, the UK is going to adopt the current EU harmonised electrical standards in the short-term.

Toys

Toys will be subject to the generic changes including CE/UKCA mark.

Textiles

Textiles will be subject to the generic label changes. The current EU legislation will be adopted and supported by the UK Textile Products (Labelling and Fibre Composition) Regulations 2012.

Contact us today today to find out how we can help you navigate your way through the regulations.

The content of this blog post is for general information purposes only. You should not rely on this article as a basis for making any business, legal or other decisions. This article should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a professional.

If you require advice on preparing your labelling for Brexit, contact us for with your questions, - we are be happy to help!