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Information for Businesses

Answers to some commonly asked questions by business and industry

Food Standards Scotland answers some frequently asked questions on food and drink in Scotland in relation to Brexit. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for, please send any questions you have to enquiries@fss.scot.  

These answers are supplied on the basis of the available information in relation to Brexit and its possible implications at time of writing.

Food Standards Scotland’s priority continues to be to work to protect consumers’ interests and to maintain the high food standards we currently enjoy and rightly expect.

  1.  Can FSS give advice on guidance issued by the UK Government?
  2. The majority of food law comes from the EU. What is being done to ensure new regulation is consistent across the UK market?
  3. Will any EU laws be retained? When will new UK laws come into force?
  4. Has FSS issued health and identification marks guidance for product of animal origin (POAO)?
  5. Will we have the same access to EU food safety control and notification systems after Brexit?
  6. Have we retained access to RASFF? If not, what process will be offered as an adequate replacement?
  7. Will all Products of Animal Origin (POAO) have to be exported via an approved establishment in UK? 
  8. In the event of a ‘no deal’, what will I need to be able to export POAO to the EU from the UK?
  9. With regards possible Border Inspection Posts (BIPs), do we know where they are?
  10. What is an EORI number and how do I get one?
  11. What effect will Brexit have on current food labelling regulations?
  12. Do I need business or importer addresses on my food labelling?
  13. Can I continue to sell food labelled with a long shelf life after the end of the transition period?
  14. Country of origin labelling – Will Brexit change how I describe where my products come from?
  15. Will frozen stock for export that was packed/frozen and stored before the exit day require to be re-labelled?
  16. Which responsibilities do FSS and Scottish Government have in regard to labelling?
  17. How can Scottish local authorities provide assurances to food businesses in the wake of Brexit?
  18. Will the legal references quoted for contraventions change?

 

Food Law/Regulations

Woman in lab coat examining food.

1. Can FSS give advice on guidance issued by the UK Government?

FSS role is to provide advice and support in the devolved areas of food and feed safety, labelling and standards to consumers, other stakeholders and Ministers in Scotland. It is therefore not able to answer queries on guidance produced by other government departments for other parts of the UK or matters which are reserved to the UKG. FSS would advise that any queries regarding guidance that has been issued by any UK Government Department, should be directed to them.

2. The majority of food law comes from the EU. What is being done to ensure new regulation is consistent across the UK market?

FSS and the equivalent Government Departments and agencies in other parts of the UK have well established liaison arrangements upon, which we will build to ensure that any changes to regulation in future will continue to be evidence-based and proportionate to the issue in hand. 

The UKG and the devolved administrations have been working together to develop UK frameworks which will help ensure that food law remains consistent where that is the appropriate decision that best protects consumers across the UK.

3. Will any EU laws be retained? When will new UK laws come into force?

FSS is working with Scottish Ministers and other government departments across the UK, to ensure that if the UK leaves the EU with ‘no deal’ in place, there will continue to be a fully functioning food and feed laws in place. The substantive elements of all the current EU law will be retained with the necessary modification made to reflect the fact that the UK will no longer be part of the EU.

In the event that the UK leaves the EU with a negotiated settlement it is anticipated that a transitional period will be agreed – where the current EU law will continue to apply during this period.

4. Has FSS issued health and identification marks guidance for product of animal origin (POAO)?

Now that changes to retained EU law have been finalised in relation to health and identification marks, FSS has issued guidance which can be accessed here

Access to International Food Safety Information

Food safety after brexit. Scientist examining food.

5. Will we have the same access to EU food safety control and notification systems after Brexit?

The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) system enables information, such as food safety risks, to be shared effectively between its member countries. In a ‘no deal’ Brexit, although we will not have the same full access to RASFF, we should still have some access as other countries which are not in the EU have access to RASFF. 

The Food Standards Agency and FSS are heavily involved in developing systems to take the place of the RASFF system. The Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee enquired about this and their questions and the FSS responses can be found in the Official Report (18 December) from the meeting on the Health and Sport Committee website.

6. Have we retained access to RASFF? If not, what process will be offered as an adequate replacement?

The UK may have limited direct access to the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) after EU Exit. The European Commission has a role to verify the RASFF notifications and inform third countries. 

To enhance the sharing of information with third countries, the Commission is obliged through EU law to establish contact with designated RASFF contact points in these countries. 

Also the Commission must inform third countries without undue delay if a RASFF notification concerns a product originating from or distributed to a third country.

The UK is also a member of the International Network of Food Safety Authorities (INFOSAN) of over 180 countries, and has full access to events/alerts published on the network platform. This provides the UK with extensive ‘reach’ and a framework for communicating food safety issues with member countries across the world.

 

Importing and Exporting food and products of animal origin

For more information on importing and exporting in the event of a no deal Brexit, or if the UK leaves the EU with a deal in place, please read our guidance on health and identification marks for products of animal origin.

7. Will all Products of Animal Origin (POAO) have to be exported via an approved establishment in UK? 

Currently, a lot of live fishery products and shellfish goes to approved establishments in other Member States. 

With respect to exports to EU member states, the UKG (who have the lead role for such matters of international trade) have advised that it anticipates that all POAO, including products of primary production (e.g. fish from a direct landing) must be exported from an EC 853/2004 approved establishment.  

However,  the export requirements for POAO will ultimately be determined as part of the UK Governments’ negotiated settlement with the EU, or in the event of a ‘no deal’ in accordance with the EU requirements if the UK is granted third country status, and the UK’s subsequent listing as a third country permits the export such products. Therefore businesses and / or their exporting agents will wish to contact the UKG or look for updates on the appropriate website for up to date information.

EU hygiene and labelling requirements in relation to food exports to the EU in the event of no deal has been set out in the following Commission notice.

8. In the event of a ‘no deal’, what will I need to be able to export POAO to the EU from the UK?

As an exporter, it is your responsibility to ensure that all documentation is in place before you attempt to export your consignment and you should apply for an EHC in advance of exporting. More information can be found on the UK Government website, here.

You will also need to have your EHC signed by an authorised officer, such as your local vet or an officer from your council’s Environmental Health Department. A list of authorised officers in Scotland is available here.

The trade route for your goods needs to allow for your consignment to be checked at a border inspection post (BIP) at the first EU country you enter for export. 

9. With regards possible Border Inspection Posts (BIPs), do we know where they are?

A list of approved BIPs is available here.

10. What is an EORI number and how do I get one?

EORI stands for Economic Operator Registration and Identification. An EORI number is needed for all businesses intending to import or export physical goods (including foodstuffs) from or to the EU if there's no Brexit deal. It applies to businesses based in Great Britain, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. This is the responsibility of HM Revenue and Customs rather than FSS – you can find more information here.

Food Labelling

Food labelling after brexit, customer looking at food label

11. What effect will Brexit have on current food labelling regulations?

FSS has been making minor technical amendments to the food labelling regulations to maintain  a high level of consumer protection after EU exit. You can find more details about our amendments to food law and other Brexit preparations below.

12. Do I need business or importer addresses on my food labelling?

Yes. Some form of physical address in the UK is needed for the business with responsibility for the food information. This does not need to be manufacturing premises, but a telephone number or e-mail address is not enough. For exports to EU Member States it would be up to the Commission or the Member State concerned to decide what type of physical address is required.

13. Can I continue to sell food labelled with a long shelf life after the end of the transition period?

FSS is updating the food labelling legislation for Scotland to include transition periods for:

  • Business names and addresses
  • Country of origin information
  • Identification marks for animal products (Meat which has been health marked before exit day may be sold on the market in the UK afterwards)  

Once these transitional arrangements are in place, products with a long shelf life placed on the market within the UK before the expiry of the transition period can continue to be sold until stocks are exhausted, and would not need to be relabelled.

However, for products placed on the market in the EU 27, decisions on whether or not the food labelling is acceptable will be for the authorities in the country concerned taking account of the terms of any exit deal or a future trade deal negotiated between the UK and the EU.

14. Country of origin labelling – Will Brexit change how I describe where my products come from?

If you use the descriptor ‘EU’ and your products consist of or contain ingredients originating from the UK, then this will no longer be accurate once the UK leaves the EU.

During any transitional period businesses will need to take care to avoid misleading consumers. For example, point of sale notices may be helpful to help consumers know where the food comes from.

For some products using a mixture or blends of food from different countries there is flexibility to give a general indication rather than list all individual countries.  Examples provided below:

Blended honey – the name of any recognised geographic area or trade bloc will be accepted in Scotland such as:

  • “blend of honeys from more than one country”,
  • “blend of honeys from (insert name of a specified continent or trading bloc)”,
  • “blend of honeys from outwith (insert name of a specified continent or trading bloc)”,
  • “blend of honeys from (insert name of a specified country) and (insert name of non-specified other countries)”,
  • “blend of honeys from (insert name of a specified continent or trading bloc) and outwith (insert name of a specified continent or trading bloc)”, or
  • “blend of honeys from (insert name of a specified country or specified continent or trading bloc) and (insert name of non-specified countries).”.

Prepacked fresh and frozen meat from pigs, lamb, goats and poultry must be labelled with the  country of rearing and country of slaughter. However, there is flexibility for products derived from animals which have been reared in more than one country:

  • Mixtures of mixed origin minced meat may carry ‘UK’ and / or ‘non-UK’, as appropriate, to describe where the rearing period took place and the animals were slaughtered. 
  • Mixed origin cuts of meat where the rearing period is less than the minimum time for the species and rearing has taken place in more than one country may carry ‘reared in several countries’.

15. Will frozen stock for export that was packed/frozen and stored before the exit day require to be re-labelled?

The export requirements for these products will be determined as part of the UKG negotiated settlement with the EU or in the event of a 'no deal' in accordance with the EU requirements for our listing as a third country permitted to export such products.

The EU have advised their position in the event of no deal in the following link.

Defra have provided information at the following link.

Any other queries relating to any future trading relationship with the EU with respect to your products should be directed to DEFRA at their dedicated helpline – defra.helpline@defra.gov.uk.

16. Which responsibilities do FSS and Scottish Government have in regard to labelling?

FSS has responsibility for general food labelling (e.g. product name, allergens and ingredients), nutrition information and country of origin labelling for certain types of meat (pork, lamb, goat and poultry). This information ensures consumers can make safe and healthy choices about their food.

The Scottish Government has responsibility for the following:

  • Beef and veal labelling, including country of origin labelling
  • Fruit and vegetables, including country of origin labelling
  • Olive oil, including country of origin labelling
  • Wine, including country of origin labelling

Local Authorities

Local authority information after brexit, chef speaking to businessman

17. How can Scottish local authorities provide assurances to food businesses in the wake of Brexit?

Fundamentally, functioning laws should be in place and they should not have changed for food businesses placing their products in the market in the UK.   

In the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, there may be issues with the labelling of food products produced within the UK. From a food business perspective, the main issue will be that exported products will need to change any claims that it is produced within the EU.

From an enforcement perspective, modifications may be needed to include references to new laws on authorisation cards and formal enforcement notices, as well as some new systems put in place to replicate current processes. 

18. Will the legal references quoted for contraventions change?

The offence/penalty provisions for contraventions of Scottish food law are for the most part contained within domestic Scottish enforcement regulations, with appropriate cross references to the relevant EU provisions. 

In general, the same law will apply post-Brexit, but this will have become retained EU law to both the domestic and directly applicable EU provision.

It is therefore likely that any offence provisions will have to also cross reference to the amending Statutory Instruments (SIs) in any reports made to the Procurator Fiscal or Enforcement Notices. These SIs are planned to be in force at Exit date, even in the event of a ‘no deal’. We would anticipate providing updated information by way of a standard FSS enforcement (ENF) notice once the relevant instruments have completed the necessary parliamentary scrutiny procedure.

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