Preparing for Brexit: an Environmental Health Overview

An initial news article was published by REHIS in March 2019 regarding preparing for Brexit with an environmental overview. This news article aims to provide an update. 

A Brexit deal has been agreed but needs to be ratified. The UK could still leave the EU with no deal on 31 October if the UK and EU do not approve and sign the withdrawal agreement. 

In Scotland food, health and safety, and environmental protection, regulation has been driven by the EU. There are over 50 separate EU Directives and Regulations alone that govern food standards in the UK, whilst more than 40% of all legislation coming out of EU is food related. 

Below is some information and helpful additional sources of information to help prepare for Brexit. 

 

Food Safety

Food Law

The majority of food law currently comes from the EU and has served us well for many years. Food Standards Scotland (FSS) have been working with the Scottish and UK Governments to make sure the same legal standards and regulations apply to food should the UK leave the EU on October 31 without a deal. 

This has involved a lengthy and complex process to implement ‘statutory instruments’ (legislation) bringing existing EU laws over into UK law so that there is a smooth transition, and that standards applied in the EU are carried over to the UK.

This will make sure that food is regulated in the same way as it is at present if we leave without a deal from day one.

If, on the other hand, the UK leaves the EU with a deal in place, it is anticipated  there will be a transitional period during which current EU law will continue to apply.

The Food Standards Scotland website gives more information on what it's been doing to prepare for EU exit.

Importing and Exporting

Importers and exporters of animals and animal products will be subject to new requirements if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. This would include foodstuffs ranging from cuts of meat to cheese, as well as fish and fishery products.

The rules would also apply to the import and export of live animals and other consignments such as animal by-products.

Guidance, published on GOV.UK, sets out the steps businesses will need to take to import or export these goods, and the government is communicating directly with these businesses and individuals to help make sure they are Brexit ready.

There are actions businesses will need to take if they import or export products between the UK and EU.

Businesses will require to get a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number so they can continue to import or export goods and apply for authorisations.

Importing animals and animal products

While imports of animals and animal products can continue after Brexit, the way that notifications are raised is also changing. Businesses importing certain goods from outside the EU will need to use a new system called Import of Products, Animals, Food and Feed System (IPAFFS) to notify authorities of their imports.

This will be instead of the EU’s TRACES system currently used by businesses. 977 registered users have already signed up for IPAFFS which have undergone a series of improvements during 2019. Users are encouraged to register for IPAFFS from the 30th September, when guidance and user support will be available.

The UK has asked the EU for continued access to TRACES for imports from the EU for a limited time, but importers would still need to notify APHA. However, should that not be granted, businesses importing these consignments from the EU will need to notify authorities using a different process. Details on the import process are available here on GOV.UK.

Businesses who import live animals or animal products, fish, shellfish or fish products from non-EU (third) countries directly or transiting through the EU, your consignment will need to be checked at a Border Inspection Post (BIP).

Businesses who import high-risk food and feed not of animal origin from non-EU (third) countries, directly or transiting through the EU, will need to enter the UK via a Designated Point of Entry (DPE).

For more information, see importing animals, animal products and high-risk food and feed not of animal origin after EU exit.

Exporting animal products to the EU

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the EU would need to list the UK as a third country and give us approval to export products of animal origin (POAO) to the EU. 

If the UK does become a third country exporters of animals, animal products, fish and fishery products from the UK to the EU will need to follow a new process if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. 

If the UK is granted listed status for third country exports of animals and animal products, food exporters, in addition to meeting customs requirements, will need to ensure:

·       All consignments are accompanied by Export Health Certificate (EHC) signed by a certifier such as an Official Veterinarian or a Local Authority Environmental Health Officer. EHCs can be downloaded here. A list of authorised officers in Scotland is available here.

·       All consignments travel via a Border Inspection Post (BIP). A list of current BIPs is found here

·       All consignments comply with food labelling requirements which are detailed at here

·       Additional paperwork is required for exporters of fishery products to ensure fish has been caught legally. Further guidance for fish exporters can be found here

The consignment must enter the EU via a Border Inspection Post (BIP) within the EU. It is likely that current trade routes could be affected. There is not currently a BIP at Calais, although French authorities expect these to be operational by the end of March 2019. See a list of EU BIPs

In addition, businesses must follow the EU’s customs processes for third countries.

For more information, see exporting animals, animal products, fish and fishery products to the EU after EU Exit.

Food labelling

The rules for what you must show on food labels will change for some food and drink products if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The changes include:

·       Food business operator (FBO) address labelling

·       Country of origin labelling

·       Use of the EU emblem

·       Use of the EU health and identification marks

·       Use of the EU organic logo

·       Use of the geographical indication (GI) logo

Food business operator (FBO) address

Pre-packaged food sold in the EU exported from the UK, must include an EU address for the FBO or EU importer on the packaging or food label.

Country of origin labels

It will be inaccurate to label UK food as origin ‘EU’. UK food should not be labelled as origin ‘EU’.

EU emblem

The EU emblem on goods produced in the UK must not be used unless it has been authorised by the EU to do so.

EU health and identification marks 

If the UK and the EU agree a deal, the current EC health and identification marks applied to POAO produced in the UK would continue to be used for the duration of any agreed implementation period.

If the UK leaves the EU without a negotiated deal, competent authorities and food businesses in the UK will not be able to apply the current ‘EC’ health and identification marks to certain POAO which have been produced in a UK-approved establishment.

This means a revised form of the health and identifications marks will need to be used from day one onwards for certain POAO produced in the UK and placed on the UK, EU and non- EU country markets.

FSS has issued guidance which can be accessed here

EU organic food

You must not use the EU organics logo after exit day unless:

·       your UK control body is authorised by the EU to certify UK goods for export to the EU

·       the UK and the EU agree to recognise each other’s standards (called equivalency)

Contact your control body to stay up to date.

If the UK does not reach an equivalency deal with the EU, you cannot export organic food or feed from the UK to the EU.

You can continue to use your UK organic control body logo.

Read more about trading and labelling organic food if there’s no-deal Brexit.

Geographical Indication (GI) logo

GI-protected food or drink products (except wine or spirits) must use the relevant UK logo. Guidance on the UK schemes, including the new logos, will be released before exit day.

The logo use is optional for GI-protected wine or spirits.

The UK will set up its own GI schemes if there’s a no-deal Brexit. You’ll have 3 years from the launch of the UK schemes to adopt the relevant UK logo on food and agricultural product packaging.

Find out more about protecting food and drink names if there’s no a no-deal Brexit.

Enforcement

From a local authority enforcement perspective, modifications may be needed to include references to new laws on authorisation cards and formal enforcement notices, as well as some new systems put in place to replicate current processes. 

The offence/penalty provisions for contraventions of Scottish food law are for the most part contained within domestic Scottish enforcement regulations, with appropriate cross references to the relevant EU provisions. 

In general, the same law will apply post-Brexit, but this will have become retained EU law to both the domestic and directly applicable EU provision.

It is therefore likely that any offence provisions will have to also cross reference to the amending Statutory Instruments (SIs) in any reports made to the Procurator Fiscal or Enforcement Notices. These SIs are planned to be in force at Exit date, even in the event of a ‘no deal’. 

 

Health and Safety 

Health and safety protections, and business duties to protect the health and safety of people, will not change with Brexit. ​

The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 ensures that, whatever the outcome, we can provide certainty on health and safety for dutyholders across the UK. The Act corrects minor inaccuracies, such as changing ‘European Union’ to ‘United Kingdom’.

After Brexit businesses should continue to manage their business and employees in a proportionate way to reduce risk and to protect people and the environment.

Therefore whatever the deal the UK leaves the EU with, or in the event of no-deal, Environmental Health at Local Authorities approach to health and safety regulation will remain the same. 

 

Environment

Scotland has measures in place to protect the environment, and these measures are supported by EU laws and standards. These EU laws and standards may be affected by EU exit.

The Scottish Government is committed to making sure it meets EU environmental standards after EU exit.

Environmental legislation is being corrected to make sure the law keeps working as it has been in key areas. The Scottish Government is working on this with public bodies like the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage.

These areas include:

·       air quality

·       chemicals

·       flooding

·       habitat and species protection

·       noise

·       pollution prevention and control

·       statistics and data

·       waste

·       water

·       wildlife management

Environmental laws and principles

The European Commission and the European Court of Justice currently help monitor and enforce environmental laws in Scotland.

The Scottish Government is discussing ways to make sure environmental laws are still monitored and enforced in an effective way after EU exit.

The UK government will establish a new, independent statutory body after Brexit - The Office for Environmental Protection (OEP). The OEP will oversee compliance with environmental law and will be able to bring legal proceedings against government and public authorities if necessary. The OEP will also scrutinise and advise government. Environmental principles will guide future government policy.

The UK government will introduce interim measures before the OEP is set up if there’s a no-deal Brexit. These interim arrangements will continue until the OEP becomes fully operational in early 2021.

EU law is shaped by environmental principles – for example, that pollution should be prevented and dealt with at the source where it takes place, and that the polluter should pay for the cost of this.

These principles influence environmental law and policy in Scotland, and the Scottish Government is discussing ways to make sure this continues after EU exit.

Further advice

Please see the following links for further information. 

PrepareforBrexit.Scot - Brexit planning for businesses in Scotland- this tool helps businesses identify what they can do to prepare their company for business post- Brexit.

MyGov.Scot - Information and guidance to help prepare for EU exit, including a “no deal” situation. 

EU exit has not happened, and many of the details are not yet known or are regularly changing. So please keep checking the additional sources given for updates.

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