Navigating uncharted waters

I attended an EU exit meeting last week (hosted by the Food and Drink Federation) at which industry was given an update on Brexit progress (or not, as the case may be, amid continued whispers that Article 50 will be extended until the end of June).

What an eye-opener.

Take food labelling, for example. Defra has declared that traceability must be preserved, in order to protect the rights of the consumer to know where their food has come from. Fair enough. But the reality of that means that manufacturers are facing a mind-boggling array of potential new rules and regulations.

For example, post-Brexit, when it comes to Country of Origin Labelling, it will no longer be accurate to describe a UK product as being of EU origin, nor can the EU organic logo continue to be used (unless authorised by the EU).

Also, From December 2020, a Food Business Operator’s address on a label must be a UK address (or an address in the EU for exports). And when it comes to Geographical Indications, there will be a new GI UK logo.

The exasperation in the meeting room was palpable.

Yet while it’s easy to criticise the government’s handling of the impending EU departure, it’s also hard not to have sympathy for the civil servants navigating uncharted, not to mention rather choppy, waters. I genuinely believe they’re doing the best they can in a very difficult situation. After all, it can’t be much fun spending your working days up a rather smelly creek… without the aid of a paddle.

For more information on food labelling changes after Brexit, visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/food-labelling-changes-after-brexit

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