From the start of 2021 the UK will have negotiated a trade deal with the EU or will have asked to extend the transition period, but what is certain is once the transition period ends, the United Kingdom will not be treated as a member state. What impact will this have on the present Food Information regulations that govern how the UK label food?
Nicola Smith from the Global law firm Squire Patton Boggs discusses that, in the short term there is the possibility of some changes that can affect those manufacturers that export to the EU. She explains that at present it is mandatory to place the name and address of the food business operator on the label. However, if that operator is not a member of the EU then the name of the importer within the EU must be on the label. This implies that all operators that import to the EU will need to change their name and address on their labels to the name of the importer in the EU. This may cause some concerns, especially when dealing with issues and complaints since consumers normally contact the name and address on the label when they make a complaint, which would be the importer, not the manufacturer.
Smith explains that other short term changes will involve EU specific logos and country of origin labelling, especially to those products currently labelled as EU origin.
However, in the long term, there could be some significant changes; the UK government could introduce new rules associated with nutritional health such as obesity, there could be changes to what some consider as "a confusing health claim". Other considerations could be the mandatory use of a nutritional traffic light on the front of pack labelling, full labelling of alcoholic drinks, and the review of allergen rules to meet the requirements of the UK.
Once the transition period ends there is no doubt that there will be significant changes to food labelling which will have an impact on food producers and consumers alike.
Whether it be country of origin labelling, use of EU logos, or specifications around a food business operator’s name and address, Brexit is shaking up how manufacturers label their food and beverage products.