By 1 January 2021, the Brexit transition period will have come to a close. For UK food and beverage manufacturers that export to the EU, the end of the 11-month transition period also marks a deadline for food labelling changes.
Today (5 November), the UK Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) published an update to its information on labelling of food products for sale in the UK and EU, with particular focus on food products marketed in Northern Ireland.
“Businesses will need to make sure they are prepared for new rules that will apply,” noted the department. “Businesses that produce or label foods that may be sold in Northern Ireland may also need to make changes to food and drink labels.”
The latest update
Specifically, from 1 January 2021, Defra has noted that pre-packaged food or caseins sold in Northern Ireland must include a Northern Ireland or EU food business operator (FBO) address. This could be an importer based in Northern Ireland or an importer based in one of the EU 27.
Where EU law does not require an EU Member State to be indicated, Defra said food from and sold in Northern Ireland can continue to use ‘origin EU’ or ‘origin UK’.
The department has also told food manufacturers that from 1 January, they should label food from and sold in Northern Ireland as ‘UK(NI)’, or ‘United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)’, where EU law requires.
And finally, under the Northern Ireland Protocol, goods sold in Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU roles for food labelling. There will be changes to labelling that apply from the end of the transition period, it added.
UK GI scheme
The announcement comes three weeks after Defra issued details concerning products protected by geographical indication (GI) schemes.
All existing UK products registered under the EU’s GI schemes by the end of the transition period will remain protected under the UK GI schemes, and those produced anywhere on the island of Ireland will be protected in both the UK and EU.
However, from 1 January, producers will need to apply to either the relevant UK scheme – to protect a new product name in Great Britain, or the relevant EU scheme to protect a new product name in Northern Ireland and the EU.
Concerning packaging, producers or retailers of GI products produced for sale in GB, and registered before 1 January, will have until 1 January 2024 to change packaging and marketing materials to display the new UK GI logos. More information available here.