No deal Brexit advice: guidance on food and drink labelling

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The government has today (5 February) issued updated guidance on food and drink labelling in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Delivering a deal with the EU remains the government’s top priority. This has not changed. However a responsible government must prepare for every eventuality, including a no deal scenario.

While food businesses will have a 21 month transition period for the most significant changes to food labels, in the event of no deal Brexit there are some technical changes to labels that will be required from day one. For products placed on the UK market after 29 March 2019, these changes include:

  • The EU emblem must not be used on goods produced in the UK unless a company has been authorised by the EU to do so;
  • The EU organic logo must not be used on any UK organic products, unless the UK and EU reach an equivalency arrangement – where both still recognise each other’s standards – before exit day; and
  • It will be inaccurate to label UK food as origin ‘EU’. Additional information such as signage in shops and online information will help clarify to the consumer the origin of the food.

Food and drink products that have already been placed on the UK market on or before 29 March 2019 can continue to be sold through until the stocks are exhausted.

For goods placed on the UK market after 29 March 2019 where, as a result of EU Exit, the information is technically incorrect (for example UK products labelled as origin ‘EU’), the UK government will encourage enforcement officers to take a pragmatic approach to enforcement, which fully protects the interests of consumers while ensuring industry are able to manage the scale of labelling changes required.

The EU and other non-EU countries may require wholly accurate labelling for access to their markets. In these instances, we would recommend labels are replaced or over-stickered as required to ensure they are fully accurate.

A 21 month transition period has been agreed to give businesses more time to make other labelling changes such as ensuring there is a UK address for the responsible Food Business Operator or importer on the label.

There will be a three year transition period for the new UK Geographical Indication Schemes logo. The new UK logo will be available from 29 March 2019 so producers have the option to make GI labelling changes before the end of the adoption period if they wish.

All changes will be subject to parliamentary process.

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