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.
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
- Food business operator (FBO) address
- Use of the EU emblem
- Use of the EU health and identification marks
- Use of the EU organic logo
- Use of the geographical indication (GI) logo
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.
Any 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.
- Ice cream made from raw milk would need an identification mark.
- Ice cream made from pasteurised milk would need not need an identification mark.
EU organic logo
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.
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.
Geographical indication (GI) logo
The UK now has it’s own GI scheme.
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.
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This post includes helpful links and advice for food manufacturing sites.