Brexit advice for food businesses

The UK is due to leave the European Union (EU) and would become a ‘third country’, which means UK products will become imports into the EU.

If you have customers in the EU they will become importers and will need to be assured that the products you supply meet EU importation requirements.

Most UK food regulations are the same as EU regulations and the UK Government plans to convert EU law into UK law when we exit the EU. However, you may need to make some changes so that you can continue to export your products to the EU.

Food business will have 21 months to make any labelling changes for products being sold in the UK except where a transition period is not possible, for example use of the EU organic logo.

Food labels

Addresses on food labels

For pre-packed products sold in the UK, the label would need to include the name and a UK address of the responsible food business operator (FBO). The FBO is the business under whose name the food is marketed in the UK or, if that operator is not established in the UK, the importer of the product into the UK.

An EU address alone would no longer be valid for the UK market.

Similarly, a UK address alone would no longer be valid for the EU market and an address within the remaining EU member states will be required following EU exit.  A UK address together with an EU address on the label would mean that the label is valid for both the UK and the EU markets.

Foods already labelled and placed on the UK market bearing an EU address, will be allowed to be sold through until stocks are exhausted.

Origin indications

Use of the term ‘EU’ in origin labelling would no longer be correct for food or ingredients from the UK.

Food of animal origin

Food of animal origin includes:

  • dairy
  • egg
  • fish
  • honey products
  • meat.

The health mark or identification mark cannot imply membership of the EU but must give the name of the country. For example, United Kingdom or UK. As a result new health stamps will be issued to officials. Further guidance on health marks after brexit can be found on GOV.UK.

Food of animal origin from the UK will need to meet EU health standards before being exported. Each premise where exported products are prepared and dispatched will need to be approved. Exported products can only enter the EU marketplace through an approved ‘Border Inspection Post’ (BIP) which must be notified 24 hours in advance.

Each consignment needs an export health certificate and may be subject to checks including sampling and testing at the BIP.

Foods that contain products of animal origin may also be subject to controls.

If you are exporting animal products you will need to contact the FSA to put your details on the register for approval -  FSA General Enquiries number 0207 276 8829.

Food of non-animal origin

Food of non-animal origin may be subject to checks when entering the EU.

There are specific requirements for the following products:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • sprouted seeds and seeds for sprouting
  • plants and plant products.

These requirements may change in the future if new risks are identified.

You can learn more about import and export controls at the Food Standards Agency.

Organic food

Importing

You will no longer use the EU’s Trade Control and Expert System New Technology (TRACES NT) when importing organic food and feed. You will use a manual UK organic import system until a new digital system is in place. All imports from non-EU countries (known as third countries) must have a certificate of inspection (CoI). Imports from the EU, EEA States and Switzerland do not need CoIs until 1 January 2021.

Exporting to the EU

You will not be able to export organic food or feed to the EU, unless either:

  • your UK control body is authorised by the EU to certify UK goods for export to the EU
  • the UK and the EU agree to recognise each other’s standards (called equivalency).

Contact your control body for the latest information.

Exporting to non-EU countries

Some non-EU countries may require an export certificate for each consignment. You should check with the country you’re exporting to. Trading rules should stay the same for countries that accept UK goods without an equivalency arrangement (an acceptance of each other’s standards).

The EU has equivalency arrangements with some non-EU countries and the UK is negotiating trade agreements to continue trading with these countries after Brexit.

UK domestic trade UK

Organic control bodies will continue to certify UK organic operators for trade within the UK. You can continue to use your UK Organic Control Body logo. You must not use the EU organic logo on any UK organic food or feed after Brexit, unless either:

  • your control body is authorised by the EU to certify UK goods for export to the EU
  • the UK and the EU agree to recognise each other’s standards under equivalency arrangements.

Natural mineral waters

Natural Mineral Waters (NMWs) currently undergo a specific recognition process to be able to be marketed across the EU.  Each country carries out this recognition.

NMWs recognised in the UK may no longer be accepted as such in the EU. UK NMW producers need to be prepared to apply for recognition of their water through an EU member state.

These applications will be treated as third country applications and processed in the same way as third county applications are processed now.  
UK NMW producers would continue to be recognised for the UK market.

Further advice

Contact business advice services for more advice and sign up to our business newsletter for regular updates.

We offer scientific and calibration services under the Food Safety Act 1990, the Weights and Measures Act 1985 and the Agriculture Act 1970.