Direct Food Labels

Brexit and The Legal Side of Labelling

Nobody really knows what effect Brexit will have on labelling food products, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make informed predictions. The volume of regulations that will be required to replace directly applicable EU law across the board leaves questions as to the priority likely to be given to food labelling, with the strong likelihood of the simplest possible solution being adopted.

It’s safe to say the basic principles of labelling will probably remain the same. The Food Information Regulations (FIR) we currently use, which are specified by the EU, will likely remain in some shape or form. This could either be through legal measures adopting the text of the EU regulation when we set out on our own or reproducing similar rules exclusively for the UK’s requirements. Over time if we choose to introduce an entirely new list of labelling requirements, it is likely to be similar to that of FIR, with some details added and some removed.

What creating our own regulations could mean over time is a change to the finer details of some product-specific regulations aimed at simplification. For example, the detailed rules for wine or olive oil labelling are unlikely to be retained in the same form, but the rules of organic farming and labelling and food supplements are likely to live on largely unchanged.

At any rate, this transition could be quite tricky. When we Brexit, the government will have a hard task on its hand to reproduce such a complex list of legislation through Parliament in such a short time frame. A simple measure would be adopting the same provisions we have now, followed by a programme of change. This gives the benefit of a gradual transition, whist retaining the UK objective of simplification and deregulation over time once the full impact of Brexit is known.

Brexit could have negative consequences for the packaging industry in the UK, especially in terms of trade. The European Union simplifies the flow of goods between us and our neighbours. When we withdraw, the customs process will become a lot more complicated. Anything that incurs time incurs cost – and for British consumers cost is king.

What’s more, the EU has pushed the UK from a recycling and environmental perspective. Other EU countries do it better than us; they recycle a lot more of their packaging than we do. My concern is that by withdrawing from the EU, the UK might become stagnant rather than progressive in this sense. Being part of the EU we are encouraged to be more environmentally mindful to keep up with our European counterparts. It’s crucial that the packaging industry in the UK is held to account with regard to the environment.

If you need any advice when it comes to food labelling and what should go on your label then we can help. We have a large range of food labels and can custom design any label. Give us a call today to discuss.