Out-Law News 1 min. read

UK government extends deadline for Brexit food labelling changes

The UK government’s decision to grant businesses extra time to comply with post-Brexit food labelling requirements will be “cautiously welcomed” by the industry, according to one legal expert.

The regulations extend the transitional periods for some food labelling changes, originally implemented following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, by 15 months. As a result, the new requirements will now come into force from 1 January 2024. They were due to apply from 1 October 2022.

Zoe Betts of Pinsent Masons said: “The extension of the transitional arrangements means businesses in the sector have the option to continue meeting existing food labelling requirements. They also provide a longer lead time before the replacement requirements come fully into force and will no doubt be cautiously welcomed by stakeholders. Similar provisions are anticipated in the devolved nations.”

The extension, which comes amid significant food supply chain challenges in the UK, is the latest change designed to help businesses to adapt to the new conformity assessed marking regime for products placed on the market in Great Britain. The government also introduced legislation to extend current labelling measures that make it cheaper and logistically easier for businesses to continue supplying goods to Great Britain.

The delay means businesses can use an EU, Great Britain or Northern Ireland address for the food business operator on pre-packaged food in England until 31 December 2023. Products of animal origin placed on the market in England can continue to use ‘UK/EC’ identification marks until the same date. Businesses can also refer to the ‘non-EU’ origin of beef and veal in England on packaging if the animal it came from was born, reared, or slaughtered outside of the EU – and full individual country information is not available – until the same date.

Labelling of certain beef, veal, meat, minced meat and honey products is also affected, together with certain olive oil, egg, fruit, vegetable, wine, extraction solvent and frozen food stuffs.

In May, the UK government also announced a delay to the implementation of its rules banning multibuy deals on foods and drinks high in fat, salt, or sugar (HFSS) – including buy one get one free (BOGOF), ‘3 for 2’, and restrictions on free refills for soft drinks.  However, restrictions on the placement of less healthy products, a key part of the government’s commitment to reduce obesity, came into force on 1 October 2022 as planned. 

At the same time, the government also confirmed that the restrictions banning HFSS adverts on TV before 9pm and on paid-for adverts online will be paused for a year. The ban will now come into force in January 2024 because of a delay to the Health and Care Bill receiving Royal Assent, as well as a growing recognition that the industry needs more time to prepare.

A consultation on TV and paid-for adverts online was launched on 30 September 2022.

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