February 27, 2018, by Richard Hyde
Food Law after Brexit – Why the implementation period is important
The EU has recently released a document setting out the effect of Brexit on food business operators in the UK. This document makes clear that the UK will become a third country at 11pm on 29th March 2019. this has important implications for food businesses that produce food in the UK and export the products into the EU. EU food law will no longer apply to products produced in the UK. Instead, domestic food law will apply. The effect of the draft European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is that the current rules will be transposed into domestic law at the moment of departure. This means that the obligations relating to safety, hygiene and standards will remain the same. However, the fact that UK law mirrors the contents of EU food law (at least until the UK Parliament decides to diverge) does not mean that food produced in the UK can be sold in the EU.
In order to illustrate this we can take a simple example. The mandatory particulars that are required to be included on the packaging of food include “the name of the food business operator.” The food business operator named on the packaging must either be established in the Union or the importer into the Union. Therefore, every business that wishes to import into the EU post-Brexit will need to alter their packaging to identify either the address where they are established within the Union or an importer into the Union. Alterations to packaging take time, and in order to be ready for life outside the EU businesses need to identify now the steps that they need to take to ensure that they are able to sell into the European Market. The implementation period will be important to allow the changes that need to be made to take place against the background of an awareness of the contents of any trade deal with the Union. In order to make this assessment, businesses need to be skilled in analysing the regulatory landscape. Building this awareness is the aim of the course that I am running at the University of Nottingham Sutton Bonnington campus in April.