Labelling and Brexit
Foods placed on the EU market must comply with EU food law. Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to the consumer establishes the general principles, requirements and responsibilities governing food information and in particular food labelling. Summary information of the mandatory information is available on the FSAI website.
Do prepacked foods have to provide an EU address?
Yes. The rules regarding the labelling of food within the EU are set out in Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. This legislation specifies that the provision of the name and EU address of the food business operator responsible for the food within the EU is obligatory. This name and address can be either:
- the operator in the EU under whose name or business name the food is marketed or
- if that operator is not established in the EU, the name and address of the importer into the EU market must be indicated on the label.
In the case of a ‘no deal Brexit’ the UK will immediately upon leaving be considered a ‘third country’ under EU legislation and therefore a UK address alone will not be sufficient. Food placed on the EU market must have an EU contact address.
How should I indicate the name and address on the label?
The EU name and address indication must be presented on the label in a conspicuous place in such a way as to be easily visible, clearly legible and, where appropriate, indelible. It cannot be hidden, obscured, detracted from or interrupted by any other written or pictorial matter or any other intervening material. In addition the indication must, at the very least meet the minimum font size set down in the food information legislation.
Can an EU and a non-EU address appear on a food label?
Yes. A non-EU address can be declared on the label in addition to but not in place of the EU address. The inclusion of this additional address on a label must not hide, obscure, detract from or interrupt the mandatory EU address.
Can I use a web address?
A web address on its own is not sufficient to comply with the obligation to provide an EU address. The address provided must be a physical address within the EU. A web address or email can be included in addition to the physical address.
Who is responsible for food information on a label?
EU legislation on the provision of food information to the consumer specifies that the food business operator responsible for food information is:
- the operator under whose name or business name the food is marketed or
- if that operator is not established in the EU, the importer into the EU market.
The ‘responsible’ food business operator in the EU must ensure the presence and accuracy of the food information in accordance with the applicable EU food information law and any requirements of relevant national provisions.
Will overlay stickers be permitted on a temporary basis to amend labels?
The use of overlay stickers on a temporary basis would be permitted on prepacked food for a short time frame whilst awaiting new packaging. The overlay stickers should not be easy to remove and traceability of the product must be maintained. The use of such stickers must ensure that food information provided on a label is in compliance with EU food law in particular that all mandatory information is easily visible, clearly legible and, where appropriate, indelible. Mandatory information cannot be hidden or obscured. The overlay stickers should not be easy to remove.
Can product placed on the market before the UK withdrawal from the EU be allowed to be sold until end of shelf life?
Food which has been lawfully placed on the Irish market before the UK leaves the EU can remain on the Irish market under the conditions set out in the relevant EU legislation applicable at the withdrawal date.
In the EU Notice to Stakeholders on food law, an explanation of ‘placing on the market’ is set out as:
If an individual food product has been placed on the EU-27 market before the withdrawal date, i.e. it has been
- held in the EU-27 for the purpose of sale, including offering for sale or any other form of transfer, whether free of charge or not; or
- sold, distributed, of transferred by other forms to the EU-27
this “stock” of food can continue to be sold, distributed or transferred in the EU-27 as of the withdrawal date without the need for labelling changes.
This is to be assessed for each individual product. It does not extend, for example, to a type of product.
Is there a transition period?
The UK is due to leave the EU. How and when they may leave is not yet certain. The legislative regime that will be applicable to food and food contact materials arriving into Ireland from the UK will be dependent on whether or not an agreement is reached between the EU and the UK. If the UK leaves the EU without reaching an agreement then it is a “no-deal” Brexit and as foods placed on the EU market must comply with EU legislation i.e. there will no transitional period.
The Withdrawal Agreement (which was ratified by the EU MS but is subject to ratification by the UK Parliament) provides for a transition period until 31 December 2020. During the transition period, EU law would continue to apply to and in the UK as if it were an EU Member State. However, the UK would no longer participate in the institutions and decision-making of the EU.
The European Council agreed to an extension to allow for the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement. This extension will last no longer than 31 October 2019. The Withdrawal Agreement may enter into force on an earlier date, if the ratification procedures are completed before 31 October 2019. Consequently, the withdrawal would take place on the first day of the month following the completion of the ratification procedures or on 1 November 2019, whichever is the earliest.
Last reviewed: 23/10/2019