EU Exit - Health and Identification Marks

Guidance for food businesses in Scotland producing products of animal origin (POAO). 

More information for businesses

This guidance is intended for food businesses in Scotland producing products of animal origin (POAO). It outlines the health and identification mark requirements for POAO produced by Scottish businesses placed on Great Britain, Northern Ireland, EU and non-EU markets now that the Transition Period has ended (11pm GMT on 31 December 2020).

This guidance is provided on the basis of the information available at the time of writing. (12 February 2021)

Identification marks

The identification mark is applied to POAO to show it has been produced in an establishment approved in accordance with food safety and hygiene regulations and is typically applied to wrapping, packaging, or labelling which contains, or is attached to, the POAO.

Table 1 shows a summary of which identification marks may be used for POAO produced and placed on the market in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or exported outside of the UK, after the end of the Transition Period (11pm GMT on 31 December 2020). 

Identification marks which apply from 01 January 2021

Establishment where mark is applied

Great Britain market Northern Ireland market EU 27 market Non-EU market
ID mark showing GB1234 Great Britain
- FSS approved establishments
Yes Yes Yes Yes*
ID mark showing GBAA123 Great Britain
- Local Authority approved establishments

Yes

Yes Yes Yes*
ID mark showing uk1234 Great Britain
- FSS approved establishments
Yes Yes Yes Yes*
ID mark showing United Kingdom 1234 Great Britain
- Local Authority approved establishments
Yes Yes Yes Yes*
ID mark showing UK1234

Great Britain
- FSS approved establishments

Yes No No Yes*
ID mark showing UK AA123 Great Britain
- Local Authority approved establishments
Yes No No Yes*

Size and dimension of identification marks from 1 January 2021

  • There is no minimum or maximum size for the identification mark.
  • The identification mark must be legible and indelible, and the characters easily decipherable.
  • The identification mark must contain either the ‘GB’ or ‘UK’ abbreviation or the full country name ‘United Kingdom’ for POAO produced in Great Britain.

Adjustment period for changes to identification marks for POAO placed on the Great Britain market

The Scottish Government has legislated to allow a 21 month adjustment period within which a person will not be considered as having failed to comply with Article 5(1) of Regulation 853/2004.  During the adjustment period Scottish food businesses would be able to use up existing stocks of labels, wrapping and packaging with the EC identification mark. This change in the law does not affect the EU legal rights in the authorised use of its identification and health marks. Food business operators should take steps to satisfy themselves that they are not acting in breach of such legal rights.

This adjustment period commenced on 1 January 2021 and will end on 30 September 2022. A similar adjustment period applies elsewhere in GB.

The period of adjustment is available to Scottish food businesses for POAO placed on the market in Great Britain. It is not applicable to POAO produced in Scotland for placing on the Northern Ireland, EU or non-EU markets.

For Northern Ireland, specific conditions for health and ID marking have been set out in the Northern Ireland Protocol which forms part of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement. Read FSA guidance on health and ID marking as it applies in Northern Ireland.

The period of adjustment only applies to the use of labelling, wrapping and packaging stock owned by the food business before 31st December 2020 and once that stock has been exhausted it may not be replaced irrespective of the length of the period of adjustment remaining. After the end of the adjustment period the use of old labels, wrapping and packaging will become an offence once more.

ID marks should continue to be presented within the oval mark, however, businesses may no longer apply the ‘EC’ abbreviation.

Health marks

The health mark is an official mark which is applied to carcases to show they were processed in an establishment approved in accordance with food safety and hygiene regulations and that the carcass itself is fit for human consumption.

Table 2 shows a summary of which health marks may be used for POAO produced and placed on the market in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or exported outside of the UK, after the end of the Transition Period (11pm GMT on 31 December 2020). 

Health marks which apply from 1 January 2021 Establishment where mark is applied Great Britain market Northern Ireland market EU 27 market Non-EU market
Great Britain
- FSS approved establishments
Yes Yes Yes Yes*
Great Britain
- FSS approved establishments
Yes Yes Yes Yes*
Health mark showing UK 1234 Great Britain
- FSS approved establishments
Yes No No Yes*

Size and dimension of health marks from 1 January 2021

  • It must be a legible and indelible oval mark at least 6.5 cm wide by 4.5 cm high.
  • It must contain either the ‘GB’ or ‘UK’ abbreviation or the full country name ‘UNITED KINGDOM’ in capitals followed by the approval number of the establishment.
  • Letters must be at least 0.8 cm high and figures at least 1 cm high.
  • The ink used for the health mark must be authorised in accordance with food law which governs the use of colouring substances in food.

The dimensions and characters of the health mark may be reduced for health marking of lamb, kids, and piglets.

Application of health marks

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) enforcement officials are responsible for the application of the health mark to carcasses in approved slaughterhouses and game handling establishments in Scotland. FSS officials will apply the GB health mark unless advised by a food business that an alternative mark is required for their intended market.

Products placed on the market after the end of the Transition Period

If a Scottish business placed POAO on a market before the end of the Transition Period, it was allowed to reach its end user in the market it was placed with the existing health and identification marks.

This meant that:

  • POAO that were been placed on the market in Great Britain before the end of the Transition Period could reach their end-user on the Great Britain market, including circulation within Great Britain, without the need for re-labelling.
  • POAO that were placed on the market in the EU before the end of the Transition Period could reach the end-user on the EU market without the need for relabelling.

POAO moved into the EU and Northern Ireland markets from Scotland after the end of the Transition Period will require to be re-labelled in accordance with EU requirements. The EU has advised that the official two-digit ISO Code i.e. “GB”, or country name written out in full must be used for products moved into the EU and NI markets from GB.

The UK Government has advised that POAO that have been placed on the market in Northern Ireland before the end of the Transition Period, can reach the end-user on either the UK or EU markets, without the need for re-labelling.

'Placing on the market', as defined in Article 3(8) of Regulation (EC) 178/2002, means the holding of food or feed for the purpose of sale, including offering for sale or any other form of transfer, whether free of charge or not, and the sale, distribution, and other forms of transfer themselves.

Food businesses should discuss and confirm the use of the appropriate identification mark with their enforcement/Export Health Certificate (EHC) certifying officer, where a specific mark is required for export in accordance with third country requirements.

To note, there is no change in requirements relating to businesses receiving carcasses and cuts of red meat bearing an EC health mark for further processing and export.  Approved establishments receiving such product should continue to process and apply their own identification mark in accordance with the regulations.

Find Local Authority contact details.

See lists of professionals available to sign EHCs.

For further information on 3rd country export certification requirements more generally please contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

Summary and actions

Businesses should continue to ensure that only safe food is placed on the market, mindful that their product also needs to comply with any additional marking requirements set by the importing country.

For health and identification mark requirements there is an adjustment period up until 30 September 2022 for POAO placed on the market in Great Britain. There is no adjustment period for POAO produced in Scotland for placing on the Northern Ireland, EU or non-EU markets.

The EHC certifying officer, in order to complete the EHC, will need to attest that the correct identification mark is applied (amongst other things).

Whilst businesses may overwrap product (provided they are approved and it is their mark that is being applied), they should be aware that this may carry a risk of rejection on border inspection should any of that overwrapping come loose or be damaged in transit.

If you have any queries about the content of this guidance please contact your enforcement officer/OV in the first instance.

*Health and ID marking for exports to the non-EU market may depend on the requirements set by the importing nation. Whilst it is anticipated that any of the above marks will be considered acceptable by non-EU third countries,  please check with your importer that the relevant requirements for marking and export more generally are being met.

More on this topic

Related

EU Exit

Requirements for businesses now that the transition period has ended.

Related

EU Exit - Food and Drink Exports

Trade rules for food and drink businesses in Scotland

Guidance

EU Exit - Registration and Inspection of Fishing Vessels

Letter for Fishing Vessel Owners in Scotland