Brexit advice for food businesses

When the UK leaves the European Union (EU) on 29 March 2019, it will 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 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.

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’ which must be notified in advance.

Each consignment needs to have a certificate of compliance with EU food legislation and must pass checks that may include sampling and testing.

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

Logos on packaging will need to change. UK organise operators would not be permitted to use the EU organic logo (there will be a grace period to use up existing stock). UK operators may continue to use their control body's logo.

UK organic control bodies will need to apply to the European Commission, for recognition to be able to certify organic products for export into the EU. These applications cannot be made until the UK becomes a third country (29 March 2019). Approval can take up to 9 months, so other alternatives are being explored. It is expected that a negotiation will be agreed which will allow free movement of organic goods between the EU and the UK.

UK organic control bodies would be able to continue to certify UK organic operators for trade within the UK.

The UK intends to continue to recognise countries currently equivalent to the EU. Therefore, import and export of organic goods to or from countries such as the USA, Canada, Japan and South Korea should only be minimally disrupted, if at all. It is also anticipated that the UK will continue to accept EU organic products, but this will be at the UK’s discretion.

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.