Health and identification marks are oval stamps that must be applied to certain food products of animal origin (POAO). They confirm that the product has been produced in a UK approved establishment; has been inspected and is fit for human consumption.
Following a consultation by the FSA and Food Standards Scotland (FSS), which took place earlier this year, the only proposed change is the removal of the EC abbreviation.
A note provided by the FSA explains the process for establishing these marks in UK law and when the marks should be applied.
Changes that will finalise the UK’s health and identification marks have been incorporated into the Specific Food Hygiene (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 – a draft Statutory Instrument - which will shortly be laid before Parliament. The FSA has indicated that they will notify stakeholders when the Instrument has been approved.
The point at which the new marks will come into effect will depend on the nature of the UK’s exit from the EU.
The FSA and Defra aim to agree a transition period with the EU as part of a negotiated exit. Depending upon the precise terms agreed with the EU, the current EC health and identification marks might continue to be used for the duration of the transition period. The new form would then be introduced following the expiration of the implementation period.
In the event of a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU – which the FSA has indicated that they believe is unlikely – the revised marks would apply to all POAO exported to the EU immediately from the date of the UK’s exit from the EU (29th March 2019.) The FSA and Defra might then allow food business operators to use up existing stocks of packaging carrying the EC identification mark destined for the UK domestic market only.
This advice follows a recent request for food business operators exporting POAO to the EU to provide certain information to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) by Wednesday 12 December to ensure that these exports can continue in the event of a ‘no deal’ EU exit.