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Preparing for food labelling changes post-Brexit

Date: March 28, 2019

Category: Industry news

Author: Jenni Day

Those working in the food industry must prepare for changes to food labels if the UK leaves the European Union (EU) in April without a negotiated trade deal

As part of our ongoing commitment to support our members, GS1 UK has been exploring what to do in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

For food producers, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers, certain changes to food labels will come into immediate effect on 12 April, while other changes can be staggered until March 2022.

If you are in the food industry, make sure you are following the Government-issued guidance on food labelling changes post-Brexit, which we have summarised here.

Changes from 11pm UK time, 12 April 2019 if you export food products to the EU

The EU has issued guidance confirming that labelling changes will need to be in place from exit day in order to export to their markets. This includes:

  • Food business operator (FBO) address – you must include an EU address for the FBO or EU importer on your packaging or food label
  • Organic food – unless an equivalency deal is reach with the EU, or your UK control body is recognised by the EU, you will not be able to export organic food or feed to the EU. Read more here
  • EU emblem – to be removed on goods produced in the UK unless you have permission by the EU to use it
  • EU health and identification marks – to be replaced with UK health and identification marks if exporting products of animal origin
  • Country of origin labels – cannot be labelled EU if they have been produced in the UK

Changes by 31 December 2020 if you produce or place goods on the UK market after exit day

There will be a transition period lasting until at least December 2020 for labelling changes to goods produced or imported and placed on the UK market after exit day. The following will apply:

  • Food business operator (FBO) address – you must include a UK address for the FBO on pre-packaged food or cases sold in the UK, unless the FBO is not in the UK. In this instance, you would include the address of your importer
  • Organic food – you must not use the EU organic logo on any UK organic products, unless the UK and EU reach an equivalency arrangement before exit day
  • EU health and identification marks – you can continue to use the EU oval health and identification marks of animal origin produced and sold in the UK until 31 December 2020
  • Country of origin for mixed foods and eggs – you can continue to label all foods with the specific country or countries of origin, but food produced in the UK cannot be labelled as EU origin in the following instances:
    • Minced meat (excluding beef and veal) – with meat from the UK and EU, the origin must be labelled “UK and non-UK”
    • Fruit and vegetables – you must replace any references to the EU with “UK” on the label
    • Blended honeys and olive oil – if your honey or olive oil is a blend from different countries, you must list each country of origin on the label or state: “blend of honeys/olive oils from more than one country”
    • Beef and veal – if the beef or veal was born, reared or slaughter outside of the UK, your label must state “origin: non-UK”. For beef from live animals imported to the UK where you do not know the animal’s country of origin, you should replace “live import into the EC” with “beef from a live import into the UK”
    • Eggs – if you import eggs from non-EU countries that do not adhere to farming methods that meet UK standards, you should mark them as “non-UK standard” rather than “non-EC standard”

Changes by March 2022 to geographical indication (GI) logos

If you produce a GI-protected food or drink product (except wine or spirits), you must use the relevant UK logo on any products for sale within the UK.

If you produce GI-protected wine or spirits, logo use is optional.

Find out more about food labelling guidelines.


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