Brexit. The seemingly never-ending story has been a hot topic over the past few years and now continues its prominence in the food and drinks sector. A year on from the UK officially leaving the European Single Market, Brexit has now begun to affect food standards. The law now states that food and drink businesses must be able to adapt to new regulations in a way that protects their staff and consumers.
With the new Brexit guidelines in place, we provide you with all the information you need on how it will affect your food business, and how to prepare for the future; from food labelling to training staff.
The UK-EU trade agreement, containing new rules for living, working and trading together, took effect on 31st December 2020.
What did the trade deal state?
- There will be no taxes on goods (tariffs) or limits on the amount that can be traded (quotas) between the UK and the EU from 1 January
- Some new checks will be introduced at borders, such as safety checks and customs declarations.
- There are some new restrictions on certain UK animal food products. For example, uncooked meats like sausages and burgers can’t enter the EU unless they are frozen to -18C. (The use of purpose-built cold storage containers will effectively control the temperature of your products).
How the Food Standards Agency has Prepared for Brexit
The FSA has stated that their high standard of food safety and consumer protection will be maintained and they’re committed to having in place an effective regulatory regime to allow businesses to continue as normal. The great news for most of the food and drink industry is there will be limited changes in how they are regulated and how they are run.
How will Brexit Food Standards affect your Foodservice Business?
New guidelines, however, bring changes to existing food standards and Brexit is likely to affect your food safety and quality management system (FSQMS). The way you audit standards, oversee your supply chain and train employees may all need to be revised.
- For food companies that export their products – a huge 26% of food consumed in the UK in 2019 came from the EU – the need to comply with EU and other international standards will not change.
- For those that don’t export, there is an increased cost of changing regulations if not managed properly. Non-compliance can lead to fines and loss of business, so being compliant is the key to bottom-line profit.
- The much-debated Agriculture Bill states that the UK government now can approve imported foods that do not match the high standards expected of domestic food producers. This could have an economic impact on UK food producers that would feed into the supply chain.
Our advice: swot up on the new Government guidance for everything on how to import and export goods between Great Britain and the EU.
Which Food Standards will Change under the New Guidelines?
The main priority when it comes to food standards post-Brexit is continuing to ensure safety for employees and consumers. With requirements covering a range of areas such as;
- Food law and accurate food labels
- Labelling and certification
- Training and Induction of staff
- Supply chain management
How to Prepare your Foodservice Company for Brexit Food Safety Standards
Now is the prime time to check the strength of the aforementioned FSQMS so your business can adapt to Brexit changes.
There’s now a need for certain tools and processes which go above and beyond the everyday safety aspects of HACCP, let’s take a look;
Food Labelling and Certifications
Since the UK has left the EU, there has been an extended transition period for food products sold solely to the British market. Products in line with pre-Brexit rules are now compliant until the end of September 2022 to help avoid an excess of unused stock.
From 1st January 2021, specific changes have been made to food and drink labelling that applies to domestic sales, sales to EU countries and other international territories.
What are the label requirements for British foods sold into the European Economic Area (EEA) market?
Labels require an EU-based Food Business Operator (FBO) Address
All pre-packaged food sold into the EU is now required to list the address of an EU-based Food Business Operator (FBO) on the label or packaging. This can be your EU company address if you have operations in Europe or an EU or Northern Ireland based importer of your goods.
British Produced Foods can No Longer use the EU Emblem
They must instead use the British emblem to signify the country of origin on the food label when exporting to the EU.
UK Reference Code for Animal Product Markings
As of January 2021 Products of Animal Origin (POAO), such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese and milk originating from Great Britain can no longer use EC reference code within the oval health and identification mark which is directly applied to the animal product. This is to be replaced with any of the following, “United Kingdom”, “GB”, or “UK”.
Training and Induction
The effectiveness of the training and induction programmes which take place in foodservice businesses, for example, inside your commercial kitchen, depends on the following: how you identify the need for training, how you keep the content up to date and relevant and how the training is delivered. Each of these is essential to ensure Brexit changes don’t affect the performance of your staff.
Supply Chain Oversight
Brexit food standards could affect many of your suppliers in terms of safety, quality and delivery time scales. Each of these things could have a negative impact on your bottom line and your brand reputation. A system for checking the certification and performance of suppliers is necessary to keep standards high.