New advice on food and drink labelling released

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The UK Government has issued updated guidance on food and drink labelling in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

With the date in which the UK is set to leave the EU looming closer, and with the uncertainty that the UK will manage to reach a deal in time, no-deal preparations are an ongoing process. The latest news from these preparations is in relation to food and drink labelling.

What are the changes to food and drink labelling, in the event of a no-deal scenario?

Although food companies will have a 21 month transition period for any large changes to food labels, there are circumstances under a no-deal Brexit withdrawal that means there will need to be some technical changes to labels from day one. For any 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.

DEFRA has declared that it will encourage enforcement officers to take a pragmatic approach, which fully protects the interests of consumers, while ensuring the industry are able to manage the scale of labelling changes required.

UK Geographical Indication (GI) Schemes logo

For all GI-protected food or drink products – except wine or spirits – it is necessary to use the relevant UK logo. The government has expressed that there will be a three year transition period for the new UK Geographical Indication Schemes logo, which will be available from 29 March 2019. Producers have the option to make GI labelling changes before the end of the adoption period if they wish.

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