Regulatory Outlook

Food law | UK Regulatory Outlook April 2024

Published on 23rd Apr 2024

FSA launch consultation on regulated products regime | FSA publish response to consultation on regulation of precision bred organisms | European Parliament formally adopts position on Breakfast Directive

FSA launch consultation on regulated products regime

The Food Standards Agency (FSA), alongside Food Standards Scotland (FSS), launched a consultation on proposals to reform the authorisation process for regulated products on 3 April 2024.

Regulated products are food and feed products which require authorisation before they can be sold and include food additives, flavourings, novel foods, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as food and feed, food contact materials and feed additives. Currently the process is slow and burdensome on the regulator, meaning few applications have been authorised under the current regime. Two proposals to reform the regime have been put forward:

  1. to remove renewal requirements (currently every ten years) for feed additives, food or feed containing, consisting of or produced from GMOs and smoke flavourings; and
  2. to remove the process of laying legislation after ministerial authorisation of a regulated product, which currently slows down the approval process. Instead the authorisation would be added to an official register, following a ministerial decision, which the FSA said will speed up the process.

The FSA hopes to introduce these legislative changes ahead of the general election. The consultation closes on 5 June 2024. Further information on the longer-term from plans will be presented to the FSA and FSS Boards in June 2024 and, if taken forward, will be subject to separate consultation.

If implemented, this reform will speed up the authorisation process which in turn could allow more innovative products to be placed on the market. The FSA has stated that failing to take urgent action will result in an inability to cope with the increasing caseload, further underscoring the pressing need for progress in this space.

FSA publish response to consultation on regulation of precision bred organisms

The FSA ran a consultation from November 2023 to January 2024 on proposals for the new framework for the regulation of precision bred organisms (PBOs) and plants and animals used for food or feed. Its proposal revolves around introducing a two-tiered regulatory approach for pre-market authorisation, meaning that those PBOs similar to traditionally bred organisms would benefit from a simpler route to market.

The FSA published its response on 5 March 2024 which outlines that the secondary legislation is currently being drafted and will be laid before Parliament in the summer, along with technical guidance. The aim is to implement the new process by the end of 2024. The response outlines how the framework will look and provides an interesting insight into how this may contrast to the EU position, which you can read more about in our Insight.

European Parliament formally adopts position on Breakfast Directive

The European Parliament has, on 10 April, adopted its formal position on the amending Breakfast Directive (see our February Regulatory Outlook for the changes being introduced). The Council now needs to adopt the directive, before being published in the EU Official Journal and entering into force 20 days later. EU Member States will have two years to transpose the news rules into national law after entry into force.

Defra opens consultation on wine reforms

We previously reported on the results of a public consultation into the wine sector, including the ending of rules on bottle shapes and the mandatory use of mushroom-shaped stopper and foil sheaths on sparkling wines.

The government has now announced its intention to continue reforms in this area, with the third phase of consultations, opened on 16 April 2024, that will close on 10 May 2024.

The new areas for consultation include proposals to:

  • remove the ban on transforming imported still wine into sparkling wine (with hopes to address the current inefficiencies with transporting sparkling wines in glass bottles into the UK);
  • allow imported wine to be sweetened or otherwise adapted in the UK;
  • allow the production of wine from imported grapes and "grape must";
  • provide more clarity around the term "British wine";
  • introduce new thresholds and labelling requirements in relation to no and low alcohol wine; and
  • update the approved oenological practices and processes.

Potential further delay to implementation of DRS

Please see Products.


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* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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