Regulation and legislation

On this page you can find information on important aspects of food and feed law and our role as a Scottish regulator.

We are in the process of updating information our website to take into account the implications of EU Exit. Read answers to commonly asked questions around food and feed legislative changes. 

Retained EU Law

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018​ (the ‘EUWA’) as amended, converted directly applicable EU legislation (in particular, EU Regulations and Decisions) as it stood at the end of the transition period (11pm on 31 December 2020) into domestic law. It preserves legislation previously made in the UK to implement EU obligations.

The legislation generally has the same effect that it had before the end of the transition, unless or until it is changed by Parliament. Some has been amended by UK statutory instruments (SIs) made under the EUWA. This is because the EUWA created powers to make secondary legislation to correct deficiencies in ‘retained EU law’ to ensure that the legislation worked properly at the end of transition.

Key points to note:

  • The titles of all retained EU food and feed safety and hygiene legislation remain unchanged.
  • Food Standards Scotland has produced a Food Law in Scotland guide which is a reference tool for food and feed legislation applicable in Scotland. This will be updated.
  • Various ‘EU’ terms (e.g. European Community, European Union, member states) have been removed by statute as they are no longer of relevance within the context of UK food law.
  • A list of UK fixing legislation amending retained EU law can be found on the FSA website
  • Domestic Scottish Statutory Instruments which provide for domestic enforcement of food law continue to apply.  These instruments contain provisions relating to:
    • powers of entry
    • powers to serve formal notices
    • offences
    • penalties
    • time limits to bring proceedings
    • clarification on enforcement jurisdictions

A number of minor amendments were made to these regulations in light of EU exit.  Read details of the regulations making those amendments.

We are in the process of updating information our website to take into account the implications of EU Exit. Read answers to commonly asked questions around food and feed legislative changes. 

Internal Market Act

The Internal Market Act 2020 came into force on 1st January 2021.

The Act introduces a new market access regime for goods in the UK at the end of the transition period when EU Single Market rules no longer apply in the UK. The regime is based on the principles of:

  1. mutual recognition – any good that meets regulatory requirements in one part of the UK can be sold in any other part, without having to adhere the relevant regulatory requirement in that other part; and
  2. non-discrimination - a prohibition on direct or indirect discrimination based on treating local and incoming goods differently. It also provides for limited exclusions from these rules, based on individual policy areas.

Certain exclusions are provided for including where there is a serious risk to public health associated with food or feed and for certain regulations relating to the labelling and composition of animal feed.

The Act means that the law in force at any given time in England, Wales or Northern Ireland (in Northern Ireland EU law continues to apply) now applies to food and or feed supplied to Scotland from other parts of the UK, provided it is compliant with the law in the country in which it was produced. 

This means that unless the UK aligns with EU law in future, divergent approaches within the UK will emerge over time.

The Act requires local goods to be compliant with local law.  This means that if a food is manufactured using ingredients that are authorised elsewhere (but prohibited locally) then that product would be non-compliant with local law and could not be sold on the domestic market.

FSS continues to consider the full implications for food and feed law in Scotland arising from the Act.  Read the FSS response to the Internal Market White Paper and Bill.

Common frameworks

The UK Common Framework Programme aims to put in place mechanisms for how official and Ministers will work together to make any changes to retained EU law.

FSS is responsible for working with its counterparts across the UK to develop provisional frameworks in the following areas

  • Food and Feed Safety and Hygiene
  • Nutrition Labelling Composition and Standards
  • Food Labelling, Composition and Standards

Of these frameworks, only the provisional Food and Feed Safety and Hygiene and Nutrition Labelling frameworks have undergone full parliamentary and stakeholder engagement to date. The Health and Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament has published correspondence on frameworks on its website

Other useful links:

More on this topic


Post EU Exit

Changes to the regulatory and business environment.


International Trade

The change in international trading relationships has consequences for businesses and regulators.


Health and identification marks

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


EU Exit - Registration and Inspection of Fishing Vessels

Letter for Fishing Vessel Owners in Scotland