Food labelling ‘no-deal’ advice raises more questions for the sector

Commenting on the Government’s newly published no deal Brexit advice on food and drink labelling:

Mark Nisbett, partner at RSM said ‘The guidance from the Government regarding food and drink labelling in the event of a no deal Brexit will no doubt offer manufacturers some clarity. However, it also raises more questions. It states that the UK will take a pragmatic approach to inbound products; but what approach will the EU, or specific European countries take, particularly where they might want to protect their own local producers.

‘If the EU doesn’t take a pragmatic view, DEFRA is advising producers to replace the label or put a new one on top, so the product can remain on EU shelves from 29 March 2019.

‘This will add hassle and extra cost for businesses to relabel each product, but the guidance doesn’t go into detail about what is ‘on market’. For example, will stock in warehouses or out at retailers need relabelling before 29 March 2019? 

‘Despite short-term hurdles, after the transition period there is an opportunity to continue to improve the ease of use and quality of food labelling in the UK in the longer term.’ 

Stuart McCallum, partner at RSM said: ‘The three-year transition period for the new UK Geographical Indication Schemes logo will be welcome news, as manufacturers will have time to prepare and adopt the new scheme in good time. Although the guidance doesn’t explain what will happen after the transition; and the key point is whether geographic status will still be protected? If so, how much extra bureaucracy will there be. 

‘These unintended consequences, such as added paperwork, may seem small but it is the minutiae that is important to manufacturers as it impacts day-to-day processes, resources and overall compliance.’