EU issues Brexit "warning" to companies about Food Law

2.26.2018

The European Commission has issued a Brexit notice to food business operators regarding legal repercussions when the United Kingdom may become a third country following Brexit. The Commission warns that EU law, including EU food law, may cease to apply to the United Kingdom from 30 March 2019 onwards.

Consequences may include that labelling of food sold in EU markets needs to change, that food business operators, authorisation holders, and/or their representatives must be established in the EU, and that import of food from the United Kingdom into the EU may be prohibited (unless certain requirements are met).

Consequences may include that:

  • labelling of food sold on the EU market needs to change
  • food business operators, authorisation holders, and/or their representatives must be established in the EU
  • import of food from the United Kingdom into the EU may be prohibited (unless certain requirements are met).

This has in particular the following consequences:


Food labelling and food information, health and identification marks

EU food law harmonises the labelling of food placed on the EU market, including regulations on food information to consumers, nutrition and health claims made on foods, food intended for infants and young children, food for special medical purposes, total diet replacement for weight control, organic production, and labelling of organic products.

In some instances, EU food law may require some changes of the labelling of food placed on the EU market due to the fact that the United Kingdom will be a third country as of the withdrawal date. 

 

Examples include the following:

  • Mandatory presentation of the origin of a food product, where the presentation refers to EU or non-EU.
  • Mandatory labelling of the name or business name and address of the importer of food from the United Kingdom.
  • As of the withdrawal date the health mark or the identification mark shall no longer include the "EC" abbreviation, which is reserved for establishments located in the EU, but shall only include the name of the country where the establishment is located.

Food ingredients & food composition

EU law on food ingredients and food composition, as well as EU law setting limits for contaminants and residues in food, applies to all food placed on the EU market, independently of the place of production of the food. The same applies for food contact material.

Requirements for food business operators and authorisation holders

According to EU food law, in some instances the food business operators, authorisation holders, or their representatives must be established in the EU. As of the withdrawal date, establishment in the United Kingdom no longer complies with this requirement.

In some instances, EU authorisations require the submission of an authorisation dossier through the competent authority of an EU member state. As of the withdrawal date, applications through the competent authority of the United Kingdom are no longer possible.

Food production & food hygiene rules

EU food law sets rules for the production of food in the EU and in third countries, if this food is placed on the EU market. EU food law also provides for specific controls upon entry of food into the EU.

Food of animal origin

  • As of the withdrawal date, the importation of food of animal origin from the United Kingdom into the EU is prohibited, unless certain requirements are met, including:
    - The United Kingdom is "listed" by the Commission for public and animal health purposes.
    - The establishment in the United Kingdom from which the food is dispatched, and obtained or prepared in, is "listed" by the Commission for public health purposes.
    - The United Kingdom is "listed" by the Commission as having a residue control plan approved.
    - The imported food satisfies all food hygiene requirements.
  • Food business operators importing products of animal origin shall ensure that import takes place only if the above mentioned conditions are respected.
  • As of the withdrawal date, these requirements are controlled upon entry into the EU by applying mandatory border checks at the first point of entry into the Union territory.


Food of non-animal origin

  • The EU Member States shall carry out regular official controls on imported food of non-animal origin.
  • The controls shall cover all aspects of the food legislation.
  • In addition, to ensure phytosanitary protection of the EU Member States, certain phytosanitary EU rules apply.


Irradiated food

  • Food treated with ionising radiation is regulated by EU law. As of the withdrawal date, the import of irradiated food from the United Kingdom into the EU is prohibited, unless the irradiation facilities in the United Kingdom are "listed" by the Commission.

Recycled plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food

  • According to EU law, authorisation holders shall notify to the Commission manufacturing or recycling sites in third countries in which the authorised recycling process of plastic materials and articles takes place.

Certificates for organic production

Only products satisfying the requirements of EU food law can bear terms referring to the organic production method (e.g. organic, bio, eco, etc.) or the EU organic logo. For products placed on the EU market as of the withdrawal date, the certificates issued by control authorities and bodies in the United Kingdom are no longer valid.

The import of organic products from the United Kingdom will be subject to the rules laid down in the EU food law (title VI of Regulation (EC) No 834/2007). This requires, in particular, that the United Kingdom is "listed" or that a certificate has been issued.

Read the EU Commission's notice of 1 February 2018.