In brief

Food labelling changes postponed until 1 October 2022 for foods sold in Great Britain; Northern Ireland will continue to follow the EU rules for food labelling.

On 12 October 2020, the UK government updated its guidance on the food and drink labelling rules applicable from from 1 January 2021. Previous guidance had indicated that foods sold in Great Britain (GB) would require labelling changes from 1 January 2021, but according to the updated guidance, the requirements for certain labelling changes will instead apply to food placed on the GB market from 1 October 2022. Moreover, Northern Ireland will not follow the specific food labelling rules applicable in GB, but will instead continue to follow the food labelling rules applicable in the EU. It is important to note that the legislative basis for this postponed deadline still needs to be put in place and so the guidance is currently subject to agreement with devolved administrations and Parliamentary process. We do however, expect the extension to be agreed and formally approved.

The decision of the UK government to postpone certain required labelling changes means that most foods that are compliant with EU food labelling rules can be placed on the market in GB until 30 September 2022. Their packaging can still contain an EU address for the Food Business Operator (FBO) and “EU” and “non-EU” country of origin claims. From 1 October 2022, the packaging of foods placed on the GB market must include a UK address for the FBO or, if the FBO is not in the UK, the address of the UK importer. Additionally, from that date the packaging may no longer bear “EU” based origin claims and must instead use “UK” or “non-UK” where the label does not list each country of origin.

It is however, important to note that the postponement is not applicable to the use of the EU organic logo. From 1 January 2021, the EU organic logo may no longer be used on any UK organic foods unless the control body is authorised by the EU to certify UK goods for export to the EU or the UK and EU agree to recognise each other’s standards.

The deadline applicable to foods exported from GB to the EU has not been postponed. All foods placed on the EU market as from 1 January 2021 must meet the EU rules for food labelling. However, as Northern Ireland will follow the EU rules, the food label can contain an EU or Northern Ireland address for the FBO or importer. Moreover, the EU emblem and “EU origin”-claims can still be used on the packaging of foods from and sold in Northern Ireland. For the avoidance of doubt, foods produced in GB and sold in the EU or Northern Ireland, on the other hand, may no longer contain these EU-specific particulars as from 1 January 2021.