The transition period is now over and the UK has left the EU.

This article, covers the UK export food labelling changes that are required, now that the UK has left the EU.

UK Food and drink businesses must now follow the Government guidelines for working with the EU.


Product exported and sold in the EU

Must meet the requirements from 1st Jan 2021.

Products sold in the UK

We have a grace period for any product sold in the UK until 30th September 2022.


We use the term ‘on the market’ during this article. And this is a really important term, that we must be clear about.

For product to comply with the placed ‘on the market’ definition, it must:

  • be supplied into the EU or NI before 1st Jan 2021
  • be physical moved into the EU or NI before 1st Jan 2021

If challenged, you’ll need to have proof that the product was placed on the market before 1st Jan 2021, the UK Government definition document gives details of what proof is acceptable.

Any product that hits the EU or NI market after 1st Jan 2021 will be illegal and will need relabelling. Therefore, without a grace period from the EU, imports into the EU and NI are at risk of being rejected at the border.

Labelling changes

How we label the product has changed and you need to make sure that your retail packaging is compliant.

There are changes are:

Country of origin

From 1st Jan 2021 product put on the market (see definitions) cannot be labelled as origin EU, with the exception of Northern Ireland.

Where the product is made in NI then, it must also state ‘UK(NI)’ or ‘United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)’. This is because of the NI protocol.

Food business operator address

All product placed on the EU market from 1st Jan 2021 must have an EU or NI contact address for the manufacturer. If the manufacturer is not based in the EU or NI, the product must have an EU or NI address for the importer.

This means, you cannot put a UK contact address (except NI) on any product sold in the EU. The address has to be a postal address, an email address or phone number is not acceptable.

EU emblem

EU Elbem for Food LabellingAny product produced in the UK from 1st Jan 2021 must not have the EU emblem on it.

EU health and identification marks

This applies to all products of animal origin (POAO), which need a health or identification mark.

For product sold in the UK or in the EU these are changing. The current health and identification marks must be used until 31st Dec 2020 and the new ones must be used from 1st Jan 2021. (However, remember for product sold in the UK you have a grace period until 30th Sept 2022).

UK Government have provided details of how the logo is changing: Guidance on health and identification marks that applies from 1 January 2021.

There are no rules about the size of the identification mark on the pack, but a health mark has to be 6.5cm x 4.5cm.

The question then comes down to whether you put a health mark or identification mark on your product. Both look the same, but there is a distinct difference between them:

  • Health mark is only used for raw carcasses from the slaughterhouse.
  • An identification mark is put on product that has been processed from raw.

FYI – an identification mark is not needed for product which is:

  • Being used as an ingredient,
  • and is not received raw.

For example:

  • Ice cream made from raw milk would need an identification mark.
  • Ice cream made from pasteurised milk would need not need an identification mark.


The EU has approved equivalence of the UK domestic schemes for organic until 31st Dec 2021, the organic rules are laid down in the UK organic labelling rules.EU organic logo

To use the EU organic logo you must be certified to one of the approved UK Organic Certification Schemes. To sell organic product in the EU, it must have the EU orgnaic logo on it.

So, the question is: Is your organic certification scheme authorised to use the EU Organic logo after 1st January?  Update 14th December: The EU has now accepted the UK certification scheme logos until 31st Dec 2021.



The UK now has it’s own GI scheme.

UK GI logos

Protected geographical food and drink names: UK GI schemes

The above provides links to the UK register for GI food products, plus details of how to register your product for GI status and details of how to use the new UK GI logos, which are shown here. All product registered in the UK must use the rules specifed for the new UK GI logos from now on.

For any products that are currently registered, or are registered under the EU scheme before 1st Jan 2021, you will have until 1st Jan 2024 to change from the EU GI logo to the new UK GI logo.

For product sold in NI the EU GI logo must be used and it’s optional to also display the UK GI logo.


This is a complicated and ever-evolving subject, so if you have any information you think your fellow techie’s will find useful – please do share it. Or if you need help, please ask your questions in the comments below.

Have your say…

40 thoughts on “UK Food labelling from 1st Jan 2021

  1. The identification mark is applied to POAO by food businesses to show it has been produced in an establishment approved in accordance with food safety and hygiene regulations, and is typically applied to wrapping, packaging, or labelling which contains, or is attached to, the POAO.

    Your definition is misleading

    1. Hi Geoff
      Thanks for your comment and I appreciate your challenge. Can you explain why you think our definition is misleading please? I agree with the defintion that you’ve provided, but on it’s own it doesn’t say what product is applies to.

  2. Hi Kassy

    Firstly what an excellent article, thank you!

    Just a little confused over the operators business address, we do not export very much into the EU, I am right in understanding from the article that we can no longer put our UK address on the packaging for any exports to the EU, if not how do we get around this as we do not use an importer etc.

    Also just to confirm for any products that are not made of any POAO, (therefore the health mark is not required) is there really no change to the labelling or does the rule regarding operators business address still stands.

    I would be grateful for any further information on this

    Kind regards


    1. Hi Gina
      It depends.
      The example that I discussed with the FSA was around ice-cream (I appreciate that’s not chicken, but bear with me). Where an ice-cream is made from raw milk and the raw milk is the predominant part (which it is in ice-cream) then it requires a identification mark. Where the ice-cream is made from pasteurised milk, it doesn’t need an identification mark.
      So the question is – how much of the product is chicken and is it cooked from raw? My thought process would be that a ready meal for example, wouldn’t require an identification mark. But I’m going to check!

      1. Thank you as I had the same question and haven’t had a definitive answer yet. We use cooked and frozen meats and fish which are used as a composite in a mixture of veg and rice. Would be great if you can clarify as I was under the same impression as Gina.

      2. Hi

        Is it possible to gain further clarification on when the identification mark is used. We are a contract packer in the UK and pack lots of different products containing POAO i.e. sausage rolls, coated chicken and fish products etc. It is very hard to determine exactly when our mark should be applied. We thought it should be on everything even products that contain a small amount of Milk but sometimes our customers disagree. If there is any legislation, that you know of, that clearly explains the requirements then please can you point me in that direction.
        Many thanks

  3. Are you able to clarify the FBO address and NI please?
    You have said if a product is made and sold in NI/EU it must have an NI/EU address or the importer’s address – if made in mainland UK and exported to NI/EU.

    So, if a product is produced and sold in mainland UK then this needs only requires a mainland UK address?
    However, if it is also sold in NI it would need the NI importer’s address too?

    1. Hi Steve

      If I’m understanding you correctly, you’re asking if you would need both a UK address and a NI address on a product, that was to be sold in both places? If that’s the case – then yes. The same packaging artwork would need to comply with both UK law and EU law.


  4. I am lobbying for clarity on the UK labelling requirements of Organic products, which at present are unclear, so that we can at least market organic products in the UK from 01.01.2021. Defra have said that authorities will be asked to use a ‘light touch’ approach to enforcement of organic labelling requirements however this does not prevent the EU from enforcing any leaf logo mis-use. Can anyone add any clarity on the issue of Organic?

    I have been led to believe by DEFRA that the FBO address must be an actual operating site in the EU i.e. distributing, manufacturing, packing and at present an office address set up for this purpose is not sufficient. Perhaps you could clarify what is acceptable as an EU FBO address.

    It is my understanding that the UK protected names logos are now available to download:

    1. Really struggling to understand this. We are a UK business that import pre packaged products into the UK with our UK address on the products.

      We then sell some of these products into N/I to several different customers. We do not have an EU or NI related business in operation.

      So what are my options? I am not able to sell these products into N/I anymore with our UK address on but as I sell the same products to several different customers I do not have any one N/I address I could put on there.

      Apparently my only option is when having this product manufactured I have to ask the supplier to print as many variations of the label address as I have customers, each having their own address on there?

      1. Hi Steve
        I’ll try and explain….
        To begin with you don’t have to have the product made there, so don’t worry about that. You’ve said that you sell the product to several different customers in NI – is this product their own label or yours? If you’re making the product for them under their own label, it’s their responsibility to have an address on the pack, so they can use their own address in NI. If however, you’re supplying your own brand to them, then it’s your responsibility. This then leaves you with one option, which is to have the product imported into NI using an importer which is based there and you then put their address on the label.
        Does that make sense?

        1. Hi Kassy,

          Yes makes sense and is pretty much how I thought I understood it. The products we sell in N/I are not customers own label, they are our brands. So if we do not want to use an importer, which we do not our only other option would be to open a new limited company in N/I with an N/I address on our product labels. That would potentially then leave us with the reverse issue of selling the product with an N/I address in GB, which would mean having to have two labels and stockholdings for each sku of exactly the same product, one with a UK address one with an N/I address ?


          1. That would be the situation though for any other export product though. Seems weird I think because it’s NI….

  5. HI Kassy
    Really helpful article, thanks.
    I have product that is labelled as being packed in Scotland using Non-EU ***** product, do I have to now state the actual COO on the label or is this still legal as it is Non-EU product? is this even affected by the changes?


  6. Hi Dainne
    I’m not sure I totally understand your question. Are you asking if you have to specify where the ingredients come from? Non-EU is fine…

  7. yes Kassy that is it, I was just wondering if there would be any change required to the way we currently label, if Non-EU, if that is still ok then that is fine.
    Although we have noticed another potential issue – so when we are selling to NI or SI it is required that us the exporter (seller) must put the name and address of the Importer (customer) onto each pack of product- so if we are packing in advance the product can at the minute go too anyone- but with the changes we will need to know in advance who we are packing for and I’m thinking we would need to apply a label maybe an acetate on the film with the customers info on it, as we don’t have any other way to do this?

    1. Hi Dianne
      If you don’t have your own NI address, then yes you would need to put your importers address on it. I agree it’s going to take some planning and organisation, but I suppose we need to now think of it like any non-English speaking export – where we would have to pack it differently anyway. It seems alien to us, because it’s Ireland, but unfortunately that’s the implication of Brexit.

      1. Hi Kassy,
        Hope you are okay. I am getting confused with the FBO address. I work for a confectionery business based in the UK who export our branded products to both NI and SI. We are not planning to use an importer. We have lots of customers and products that we send to Ireland. So I am right in assuming that we could apply a sticker to each retail pack (or is it our customers responsibility?) with the Irish address on it?. What is the difference between NI and SI? Also thought I read somewhere today that you had until end September 2022?

        1. Hi Edwina,
          Lovely to hear from you, I’m good thanks – I hope you and your family are too!
          First of all you need to establish who’s product it is – if it’s your customers brand (that you make for them) then they would need to apply the right legal labelling to the packaging. If it’s your own brand, then it’s your responsibility for legal labelling, including the address. This means it needs to have an EU or NI address on it, if it’s to be sold in the EU. For product sold in the UK, it’s OK for the product to have either an EU, GB or NI address on it until 30th Sept 2021. After that all UK product, must have a UK address.
          If you sell the same product into the SI and the UK, then you have to have both a EU and UK adddress on it. I can’t find any rules that say you can’t have both – so that’s what we would suggest you do, so you don’t have oversticker.
          Does that make it any clearer?

          1. Thanks Kassy.
            We are in the process of creating some draft labels and space is becoming an issue.
            Do we need to put “imported and distributed” as below, or can we just put a UK and Eire address?
            Imported and Distributed in the UK by………………………..
            Imported and Distributed in Eire by…………………………….

          2. Hi Edwina,
            The rules state that the name and address of the manufacturer, packer or importer needs to be on there. But it doesn’t state what (if any) text needs to come before it. Therefore it’s up to you what you want to put before it. You could just put ‘Contact details’ and list both addresses underneath.

  8. Thanks for the article, these changes are huge for our industry.

    As I understand it, the requirement is on inner packaging (seen by consumer) and outer packaging (seen at port) Is that correct?

    Also if the product is our own brand but we sell it to a retailer, who then exports it to NI are we responsible for adding an EU address or the retailer?


    1. Hi Rachel
      OK so the branded product first – the retailer is responsibile for their own brand artwork and therefore, they are responsible for putting a contact address on it.
      Your second point about outer packaging, I’ll need to look into this. The details I have provided are for retail packaging, next we need to look at what is required to have product accepted at the border. That’s next on my list – so bear with! 🙂

  9. Hi Kassy
    I have a Brexit question, would you know anything about the UK REACH registration? The company I work for are not EU REACH holders… so we don’t need to apply for a UK REACH but we import from Europe therefore do our supppliers need to prepare to any changes. Do we need to include a criteria into our Supplier approval.

    1. Morning Leena
      As this is H&S it’s outside my area of expertise to be honest, but it looks like if your suppliers products come under the remit of REACH, then they need a UK registration to import them: How to comply with reach chemical regulations
      HSE have also provided some help with suppliers who import into the UK: HSE
      With regard to supplier approval, yes you should include this in your assessment.
      I hope that helps.

  10. Hi Kassy,

    Thanks for this useful article. It is good to understand that our EU importers address can be shown on the retail packs we produce after year end, as opposed to us having to set up a new entity! However, I would have thought that this address can be applied when it reaches the country of destination and not necessarily in the UK? At present, many of our smaller EU distributors add on labels to our retail goods, in order to translate certain necessary information. They also add on their own address prior to sale. Would this suffice? or do customs need to see an EU address on the packaging to import?

    Lastly, does this change to the FBO address also relate to the retail shipper and packaging of bulk goods ?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Vicky
      So, for bulk goods – not sure yet, that’s next on my list to research. So if you could just bear with me, hopefully I’ll be able to answer that soon.
      As for applying an address after import, it would follow that if the product was destined for a EU importer, then that would be OK – as it wouldn’t be classed as ‘retail ready’. But I couldn’t be sure for certain, this is a level of detail that I’m not sure about yet. Hopefully when I look into bulk goods and the import paperwork this will become more clear.

      1. The FBO address issue is confusing me. The business I work for exports confectionery products to both NI and SI.
        The products are under our brand and we are not planning to use an importer as we have lots of customers over in Ireland. So my question is what do we have to do for both NI and SI for the FBO address?Our business is based in the UK, so would we need to apply a sticker to each retail pack that goes to Ireland with the customers address on?. We have numerous products and customers.
        Thanks for your help!!

  11. Is there anything to stop a business simply registering a PO box address as a second business address in NI and thus having on their packaging;

    UK – current UK address

    EU – PO Box 242, address, NI Postcode etc

    Would that suffice?

    1. Hi Steve,
      No I’m afraid you can’t do that. It specifically says a PO Box address is not acceptable.

  12. Hi Kassy,

    Would an address in Turkey serve as a suitable EU address for exporting to Ireland as that could be a possibility for us.

  13. Hi Kassy
    Hope you are keeping well?
    So our product is made in Northern Ireland and our office is London based, the factory are happy to use their address but can we use our company name but use their address to meet the regulation?

    1. Hi Wayne
      The key aspect is that you can be contacted at that address – which by the sounds of it you can. So sounds fine to me…

  14. Does the EU address has to be printed in each individual product labels or is it enough to place only to the outer box label ?

    1. Hi Andrea
      It needs to be on the packaging that the consumer receives – so from the example you’ve given, it sounds like the individual labels, as the consumer wouldn’t see the outer box label.

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