I process or distribute seafood in Great Britain

Supporting information and guidance on processing and distributing seafood in Great Britain.

Last updated: Wednesday 4th November 2020

General

1. Will there be different rules across Great Britain and Northern Ireland? 

Special arrangements will apply in respect to Northern Ireland. See the Northern Ireland guide for details.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) considers food safety and hygiene to be a matter for the pan-UK framework (a mechanism that ensures policy consistency or coordination in some areas between the UK and devolved administrations). However, composition and standards, health claims etc. remain devolved competencies. There is recognition of the risk of multiple standards and labelling for different UK nations. While issues involving trade remain devolved, there will be an agreement on a pan-UK basis of the regulatory aims. However, regulatory measures and enforcement will be left to the devolved administrations for decision. 

A consultation on the UK internal market  was launched in July 2020 to legislate against barriers to trade or discrimination in the UK internal market. 

2. Will the approval number of my establishment change? 

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is not planning to change approval numbers, but the identification mark will change at the end of the transition period (see question ‘What changes need to be made to EU health and identification marks after 1 January 2021?’).

If you are a UK approved establishment (including factory and freezer vessels) in England, Wales or Scotland and currently export seafood into the EU and/or Northern Ireland, if you are considering doing so in the near future or if you supply products to others that export to the EU or Northern Ireland, you need to be listed with the European Commission.

The Food Standards Agency issued guidance confirming that they and Food Standards Scotland will automatically put all GB approved establishments forward for listing with the EU. It is recommended that you check that your suppliers are also on the list of establishments approved to export to the EU.

If you do not export seafood to the EU or move seafood to Northern Ireland, and you do not supply others that use your products in other commodities that are destined for the EU and/or Northern Ireland, then you do not need to be listed with the EU. In this case, you should consider contacting the FSA to ask for your business to be removed from the EU list. If you change your mind after you have indicated that you do not wish to be on the EU list, you must inform the FSA at the earliest opportunity and by December 2020 at the latest.

Listing of establishments to export products of animal origin to the EU or move such products to Northern Ireland

3. Will the approval process change?

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has clarified that the process for obtaining UK approved establishment status is not changing and it will continue to process approval applications with Food Standards Scotland, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and local authorities.

Labelling

4. How will labelling for the GB market change?

After the end of the transition period seafood produced in Great Britain may continue to be labelled as ’EU’ in origin for a limited period, after which the EU label will not be allowed.

A. Origin labelling.Food from GB and sold in GB can be labelled as ‘EU origin’ until 30 September 2022.

From 1 October 2022, food from and sold in GB must not be labelled as ‘origin EU’.

B. Food business addresses.You can continue to use an EU, GB or Northern Ireland address for the food business on pre-packaged seafood sold in GB until 30 September 2022.

From 1 October 2022, pre-packaged seafood sold in GB must include a UK address for the food business. If the food business is not in the UK, the address of the UK-based importer or distributor should be used.

The name and UK address of the business operator under whose name the food is marketed is the business operator responsible for the food regardless of the actual producer. This could also be the producer for a branded product or a retailer in the case of a retailer’s own label product even though it is produced by another business. 

More detail can be found in the government guidance on ‘Food labelling changes from 1 January 2021

5. Can a PO Box be used as a food business address?

The address provided on the label must allow the consumer to contact the food business operator quickly and easily regarding any issue arising from their products and to allow enforcement notices to be served if necessary.

If PO boxes are used on the label they must be suitable for this purpose. They do not replace the need for the business concerned to be established with a physical presence. Examples of acceptable FBO address include the address of a unit of an FBO that is undertaking production, distribution or the processing of food.

6. How will identification marks change?

Seafood produced in UK establishments are currently labelled with an identification mark consisting of an oval containing:

  • ‘UK’ or ‘UNITED KINGDOM’
  • the approval number of the food business
  • ‘EC’

After the end of the transition period, approved businesses in Great Britain producing seafood for the GB and non-EU market must use a new identification mark consisting of an oval containing:

  • ‘UK’, ‘UNITED KINGDOM’ or ‘GB’
  • the approval number of the food business
  • ‘EC’ must be absent from the mark

Approved businesses in Great Britain producing seafood for the EU market must use a new identification mark consisting of an oval containing:

  • ‘GB’
  • the approval number of the food business
  • ‘EC’ must be absent from the mark

Legislation in England, Wales and Scotland is being proposed to allow a 21-month adjustment period for goods placed on the market in Great Britain to reduce the impact of the change in requirements for identification marks. This will allow UK businesses to deplete existing stocks of labels, wrapping and packaging carrying the ‘UK/EC’ identification mark owned by the food business operator at the end of the Transition Period.

In circumstances where the final destination of the product is unknown, dual identification marking is not permitted.

You can find more information and example ID marks in this FSA guidance.

7. Can I apply two different identification marks?

No, a product cannot display two identification marks. Only one mark may be displayed.

8. Can I over-sticker existing labels?

Yes, over-stickering is perfectly acceptable, as long as it meets the basic labelling requirements. Food labels must be clear, understandable and not interfere with any other mandatory information.

9. Will there be a transitional arrangement for EU identification marks?

The current identification marks can be used for the duration of the agreed transition period (until 1 January 2021). 

The UK government plans to introduce a Statutory Instrument which will allow the continued use of the existing EC health and ID mark for 21 months from 1 January 2021. This concession will only be available for products placed on the GB market. It will not be possible for GB businesses to use the existing UK/EC mark for products destined for the EU after the transition period.

10. Will new labelling requirements be enforced straight away?

In many cases transitional periods for changes to food labelling are being written into legislation. However, where it has not been possible to make these legal changes government are working with enforcement officials to agree the requirements for a pragmatic approach to be taken where labels are found to be incorrect. Foods which may be subject to this pragmatic approach are: 

  • Food and ingredients where country of origin labelling is used
  • Organic produce
  • Foods which use of the EU emblem

11. Will EU Geographical Indications (GIs) change ?

GI schemes protect the geographical names of food, drink and agricultural products. There are currently 14 UK seafood GIs. The UK will set up its own GI schemes to replace the EU’s schemes on 1 January 2021 in accordance with its World Trade Organisation (WTO) obligations.

Legislation laid before Parliament on 22 October 2020 will:

  • Provide the legal framework in England, Scotland and Wales to administer and enforce the GI schemes
  • Ensure continued protection of existing UK-origin GIs and non-UK GIs agreed through trade agreements
  • Establish the new UK logo in law and ensure GI logos are no longer required on GB products, and simplify the application process

Defra will manage the UK GI schemes, maintain the registers of protected product names and process new applications for protection. The schemes will be open to producers based in the UK and other countries. The UK schemes will use the following designations:

  • Protected designation of Origin (PDO)
  • Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)
  • Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG)

Registered GIs that can be produced anywhere on the island of Ireland will continue to be fully protected in both the UK and EU.

New product applications

From 1 January 2021, producers will need to apply to the relevant:

  • UK scheme to protect a new product name in Great Britain
  • EU scheme to protect a new product name in Northern Ireland and the EU

GB producers will need to secure protection under Uk schemes before applying to EU schemes. Northern Ireland producers do not need to secure protection under the EU schemes before applying to UK schemes.

Defra will publish further guidance for producers on how to apply to the UK and EU schemes at the end of the transition period.

Use of UK GIs logos on products and packaging

New UK GI logos are available to download and can be used from 21 January 2021.

Producers or retailers of seafood GI products produced and for sale in GB and registered before 1 January 2021 will have until 1 January 2024 to change packaging/marketing materials to display the new UK GI logos.

Producers or retailers of seafood GI products produced and for sale in GB and registered from 1 January 2021 must use the relevant UK logo on any product packaging/marketing materials as soon as the product is registered.

GB GI products that are protected in the EU can continue to use the EU logo in the UK, in addition to the UK logo, after the transition period.

For producers and retailers of seafood GI products in Northern Ireland, it will be:

  • Mandatory to continue using the EU logos when the product is on sale in NI if the product is registered under the EU GI schemes
  • Optional to use the new UK GI logos if the product is registered under the UK GI schemes

12. Will the UK's GIs continue to be recognised and protected in the EU?

Yes, all UK GIs registered under the EU GI schemes by the end of the transition period will continue to receive protection in the EU. The protection of the current UK GIs is provided in Council Regulation (EC) No 510/2006. Any new UK products seeking EU GI protection after the end of the transition period will need to secure protection under UK schemes.

More details can be found in the government advice ‘Protecting food and drink names from 1 January 2021’.

13. Will EU trade marks continue to be protected in the UK?

The UK Government will ensure that the property rights in all existing registered EU trade marks will continue to be protected and to be enforceable in the UK by providing an equivalent trade mark within the UK. 

More detail can be found in the government advice ‘EU Trade mark protection and comparable UK trade marks from 1 January 2021’.

14. Can I continue to use EU approved nutrition and health claims?

It is proposed that after 1st January 2021 the UK will adopt the existing EU lists of claims, including restrictions and conditions of use. These regulations have also been adopted into  Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) codes by the Advertising Standards Authority.

15. How will I be able to obtain approval for nutrition and health claims?

Scientific advisory functions relating to nutrition and health claims conducted by EFSA will be transferred to the UK Nutrition and Health Claims Committee (UKNHCC), a new committee to be established under the remit of Public Health England (PHE). The UKNHCC will be responsible for the scientific substantiation and providing advice to the four UK administrations on any new nutrition and health claims made within the UK post EU-exit. The committee will be administered and staffed by civil servants from within PHE, but will remain politically and operationally independent. Amendments to the rolled over list will follow the same procedure.

16. Should I continue to provide traceability information to my customers?

Yes. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act converts “direct EU legislation” which is “operative immediately before exit day” into domestic law. As a result, the laws surrounding minimum traceability requirements such as Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 (Fisheries Control Regulations) and Regulation (EU) No 1379/2013 (CMO Regulations) will continue to apply. Domestic legislation such as the Fish Labelling Regulations 2013 will also continue to apply.

From 1 January 2021, this means legislation surrounding the provision of lot information (such as lot ID number, catch date, vessel name etc.) must be complied with.