Regulatory Outlook

Food Law | UK Regulatory Outlook May 2024

Published on 31st May 2024

What the general election means for food law | FSA progresses two novel food applications for CBD products | Government scraps plans for mandatory eco-labels on food and drink

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What the general election means for food law

The upcoming general election on 4 July means the dissolution of Parliament on 30 May. As a result, any legislation that was not passed during the recent wash-up period will no longer be considered. It remains uncertain whether the newly elected government will reintroduce these bills, as they are not obligated to do so.

While media focus has been around the primary legislation that will not be enacted, there are also a number of pieces of secondary legislation, regulations, that were also due to be introduced to Parliament which now have not been. For food law some of the main ones are as follows:

  • Regulatory framework under the Genetic Technology (Precision Breeding) Act 2023 - drafting of the new regulations was underway but not published or introduced into Parliament.
  • The draft Marking of Retail Goods Regulations 2024 – these regulations had not yet been introduced into Parliament. These were published in draft form along with a consultation (which we reported on) and were due to extend the requirement for 'Not for EU' labels under the Windsor Framework for agrifood products destined for the GB market from 1 October 2024.
  • Wine reforms – as reported last month, the government had announced its intention to continue reforms in this area, with the third phase of consultations concluding on 10 May 2024. These reforms will now need to be put on hold considering no new legislation can be introduced.

For all of the above, we will have to wait to see what the new government will intend to do in these areas. We will be providing further updates on this. Read more about the wash-up period in our Insight.

FSA progresses two novel food applications for CBD products

The Foods Standards Agency (FSA) has progressed novel food applications for two cannabidiol (CBD) products, moving these from the risk assessment phase to the risk management phase. This comes after the FSA concluded both were safe under proposed conditions of use.

One application is for a synthetic CBD product to be used as a food supplement in the form of an oil sold as capsules and drops at the dose of 10 mg per day of CBD (per the provisional Acceptable Daily Intake amount published by the FSA), and the second is for a CBD isolate (with a purity equal to or greater than 98%), which is intended to be used as an ingredient in food supplements, beverages and confectionary for adults.

The applications will now face further scrutiny. While the FSA has not given an exact date of when they will receive full authorisation, it has been reported that the FSA is aiming to issue full authorisations for CBD products in the UK by s. These recent developments mark an exciting time for those looking to place CBD products on the UK market.

Government scraps plans for mandatory eco-labels on food and drink

In a policy paper published on 23 April, "FDTP: towards consistent, accurate and accessible environmental impact quantification for the agri-food industry", Defra confirmed that "Government has no plans at present to introduce a mandatory eco-label, nor to endorse an existing or new eco-labelling scheme." It added that there is limited evidence that eco-labelling has an impact on in-store consumer and business behaviour.

The government's focus is on improving the quantification of environmental impacts and the quality of data used for eco-labels. This involves developing a consistent product level accounting standard and determining the best metrics to measure environmental impact, considering factors like greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, land use, water pollution and water usage.

The paper notes that once the quantification of environmental impacts and data quality have been addressed, further development of the eco-labelling methodology, including label design and application, will be considered.

However in light of the upcoming general election, it may be that the new government has different priorities and decides to implement mandatory eco-labels. We will be monitoring this and will update accordingly.

EU regulation to strengthen GI legislation published in Official Journal

The regulation on geographical indications (GI) for wine, spirit drinks and agricultural products was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 23 April 2024 and will apply from 13 May 2024, with the exception of Article 10(4) and (5), Article 39(1) and Article 45, which will apply from 1 January 2025.

The new rules strengthen and protect GIs across the EU, including online. See this Regulatory Outlook for more on changes being introduced by the new legislation.

Council adopts revised Breakfast Directives

The Council of the European Union has formally adopted the revised "Breakfast Directives", see the February Regulatory Outlook for the changes introduced.

The directive was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 24 May and will enter into force 20 days after its publication (13 June 2024). ). Member states must adopt and publish the measures necessary to comply with this Directive by 14 December 2025 and apply those measures from 14 June 2026.

ASA insight on ASA Environmental Claims in Food advertising

Please see Advertising and marketing.

ASA advertising on 'alcohol alternatives'

Please see Advertising and marketing.


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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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