Guidance

Food labelling changes after Brexit

Advice for food producers, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers on the changes to food labels if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The rules for what you must show on food labels will change for some food and drink products if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Some of the new rules will come into effect from exit day. For others, you’ll have longer to update your food labels. These proposals are subject to agreement with devolved administrations and Parliamentary process.

The UK government is aiming wherever possible to allow a transition period for labelling changes in relation to goods produced or imported and placed on the UK market after exit day.

Wherever a transition period is not possible, Defra will encourage pragmatic enforcement within the UK.

If you export food products to the EU – changes required from day one of EU Exit

The UK has no control over how food labelling changes will be enforced outside the UK. The EU has issued guidance confirming that labelling changes will need to be in place from exit day to export to their markets. You should get advice from your EU importing contact on the EU’s labelling requirements.

Other non-EU countries may also require changes to be in place from exit day to export to their markets.

If an individual food product is placed on the EU market before the UK leaves the EU, this “stock” of food can continue to be sold, distributed or transferred in the EU as of the exit date without the need for labelling changes. Food can be considered to be placed on the EU market if it has been:

  • held in the EU for the purpose of sale, including offering for sale or any other form of transfer, whether free of charge or not
  • sold, distributed, or transferred by other forms to the EU

Read the EU’s guidance for goods on the EU market.

Food business operator (FBO) address

If you’re exporting pre-packaged food and caseins sold in the EU, you must include an EU address for the FBO or EU importer on your packaging or food label.

If the UK is able to achieve equivalence with the EU before the UK leaves on the EU, then UK organic goods will be able to enter the EU and continue to use the logo.

If the UK does not achieve recognition from the EU, the EU market will be closed to UK organic certified produce.

Read more about trading and labelling organic food if there’s no Brexit deal.

EU emblem

You must not use the EU emblem on goods produced in the UK unless you have been authorised by the EU to do so.

EU health and identification marks

If you export products of animal origin (POAO) from the UK to the EU, you must replace the EU oval health and identification marks with new UK health and identification marks, which are now available to use.

Country of origin labels

It will be inaccurate to label UK food as origin ‘EU’. UK food should not be labelled as origin ‘EU’.

There are also additional EU rules on food labelling required by April 2020 regarding the origin of food.

If you produce or place goods on the UK market after exit day – changes required within 21 months of EU Exit

There will be a transition period of 21 months for labelling changes for goods produced or imported and placed on the UK market after exit day.

EU health and identification marks

You can continue to use the EU oval health and identification mark on products of animal origin (POAO) produced and sold in the UK in the 21 month transition period.

The new UK health and identification marks for POAO will ensure that UK products continue to display an appropriate label that clearly shows the product has been subjected to the strict health and welfare checks that will continue after the UK leaves the EU.

Read the Food Standards Agency’s guidance on the new health and identification marks.

Food business operator (FBO) address

You must include a UK address for the FBO on pre-packaged food or caseins sold in the UK. If the FBO is not in the UK, include the address of your importer bringing the food into the UK.

EU organic logo

You must not use the EU organic logo on any UK organic products, unless the UK and EU reach an equivalency arrangement – where both still recognise each other’s standards – before exit day.

You can continue to use your approved UK organic control body logo if you qualified to use it before Brexit.

Find out more about trading and labelling organic food if there’s no Brexit deal.

Country of origin for mixed foods and eggs

You can continue to label all food with the specific country or countries of origin. You can label most foods as EU origin if it’s from a member state. Food produced in the UK cannot be labelled as EU origin.

Minced meat

For minced meat (excluding beef and veal) made, for example, with meat from the UK and EU the origin would be labelled “UK and non-UK”.

Fruit and vegetables

For mixes of UK fruit and vegetables, you must replace any references to the EU with UK on the label. For example, “a mix of EU and non-EU origin” changes to “a mix of UK and non-UK origin”.

If you’re part of the Approved Trader Scheme, you must remove the EU emblem from your UK food labels. You can use the replacement UK label instead.

Blended honeys and olive oil

If your honey or olive oil is a blend from different countries, you must list each country of origin on the label, or state “blend of [honeys/olive oils] from more than one country” (or similar wording) on the label.

Beef and veal

If the animal your beef or veal came from was born, reared or slaughtered outside of the UK and EU, your label must state “Origin: non-UK”.

For beef from live animals imported to the UK where you do not know the origin country of the animal, you should replace “live import into the EC” with “beef from a live import into the UK” on the label.

Eggs

If you import eggs that are not produced under farming methods that meet UK standards from non-EU countries, you should mark them as “Non-UK standard” rather than “Non-EC standard”.

If you produce a GI-protected food or drink product (except wine or spirits), you must use the relevant UK logo (to be released) on any products for sale in the UK. If you produce GI-protected wine or spirits, the logo use is optional.

You’ll have 3 years from the launch of the UK schemes to adopt the relevant UK logo on food and agricultural product packaging.

Find out more about protecting food and drink names if there’s no Brexit deal.

Published 5 February 2019
Last updated 25 February 2019 + show all updates
  1. Guidance updated to include links to the new UK health and identification marks.
  2. First published.