Brexit: Food safety and labelling FAQ
Food placed on the EU market must be in compliance with the EU food legislation set down to protect consumers. Regulation (EU) 1169/2011 on the Provision of Food Information to the Consumer (FIC) sets out specific requirements, particularly concerning food labelling. When the UK leaves the EU, they will no longer be subject to EU legislation and in the absence of reciprocal arrangements, it is important for companies to understand that UK producers, suppliers and processors will be treated differently to EU member states. In advance of the UK's exit from the EU, either with or without a deal, it is important that businesses prepare for the UK becoming a third country. The following questions highlight some of the necessary labelling changes that will be required after Brexit. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is the government agency which carries out the implementation and monitoring of the FIC in Ireland. Further information can be found on their dedicated Brexit page.
Companies should be fully aware of how third country food products are treated under EU law. No flexibility will be afforded on the monitoring and enforcement of EU rules on UK food imports once they become a third country. This is to ensure risk to the consumer is avoided at all cost.
Yes. EU regulation in this area necessitates that the business name and address on a product must be an EU-based address.
Yes. You can have two addresses on your product packaging once one of the addresses is EU-based.
No. A PO box is usually not acceptable under the FIC and this is unlikely to change - it must be an established EU address.
Name and address must be on the final products for importation.
In principle, yes, it will be accepted on a short-term basis. There is precedent for this, for example, when there was a change from old labelling rules to new ones under the FIC legislation. But in the longer term, your packaging should be amended to include the EU-based address. The overlay stickers should not be easy to remove and traceability of the product must be maintained. The use of such stickers must ensure that food information provided on a label is in compliance with EU food law, in particular that all mandatory information is easily visible, clearly legible and, where appropriate, indelible.
For importing animal products into the EU, the country of origin has to be approved. The European Commission has said that they plan to swiftly list the UK as a trusted country of origin. Provided UK agriculture plants comply with certain guarantees, e.g. compliance with rules on veterinary medicine etc., they will be counted as an approved supplier.
This is a matter for the EU and UK authorities and has not yet been decided. A reciprocal arrangement may be negotiated during the Transition Period but there is no certainty of this happening, so companies must plan accordingly.
Goods placed on the market, including non-finished goods, will be unaffected; this is related to the issue of stockpiling and if those goods count as being ‘placed on the market’. For more information, visit the website of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).
Environmental health inspectors go into shops and carry out spot inspections. The ethos is to do labelling checks from point of manufacture right through to point of retail. Many inspections are carried out on foot of complaints from the public and information sharing with other member states.
The FSAI carries out enforcement that is risk based and proportionate. This means that in general the food or activity that poses the highest risk receives the highest levels of controls. FSAI enforcement is also carried out in a manner that is fair and accountable. For more information, view the FSAI’s food law enforcement policy.
The European Commission, under DG SANTE, also has a group of Ireland-based auditors which go out on missions and do spot checks on particular products. The Commission then publishes those reports, so FSAI has to ensure it is adhering to EU law.
EU legislation on the provision of food information to the consumer specifies that the food business operator responsible for food information is the operator under whose name or business name the food is marketed or, if that operator is not established in the EU, the importer into the EU market.