Regulatory Outlook

Food Law | Regulatory Outlook June 2022

Published on 20th Jun 2022

This month we look at the UK government's food strategy, the British Retail Consortium's guidance on HFSS promotions, and precautionary allergen labelling

Close up of people in a meeting, hands holding pens and going over papers

Government food strategy

On 13 June, the government published its food strategy setting out its objectives which include focusing on food security and ensuring a secure supply chain in an unpredictable world, in light of the impact of the conflict in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic. It also outlines a number of initiatives in line with its objective to provider healthier options for the population and also deliver sustainable food systems in line with the government's net zero targets. 

Notably, the strategy sets out a number of measures the government intend to take regarding reporting requirements and labelling of products which will impact businesses in this sector. 


  • The government plans to develop a mandatory methodology that must be used by those who want to produce eco labels or make claims about the sustainability of their products in order to prevent "greenwashing" claims. 
  • The government will look at the current regime for nutrition labelling, such as front of pack traffic light nutrition labelling, and consider whether the regime needs to be strengthened in order for consumer to make more informed and healthier choices. 
  • In 2023 the government will consult on proposals to improve and expand current mandatory labelling requirements on animal welfare. This will build on responses to the government’s recent call for evidence on food labelling for animal welfare. Proposals will cover domestic and imported products, consider the UK's international trade obligations, and will help consumers identify when products meet or exceed UK animal welfare standards.

Reporting requirements:

  • By the end of 2023, the government will streamline for industry all reporting requirements relating to the production and sale of food and drink. The government intends to capture scope 3 emissions (those associated with a company's supply chain) and bring these in line with the reporting requirements already in force for scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • These requirements will initially be targeted at large companies across retail, manufacturing, out of home, food to go and online delivery businesses, and the government intends to consult on changes prior to implementation.

The food strategy has outlined changes that the government is looking to introduce that businesses in this sector should be aware of. As noted above, a number of these initiatives are to be consulted on and the team at Osborne Clarke will be monitoring these closely. 

BRC category guidance on HFSS promotional restrictions 

With the placement of foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) still coming into force on 1 October 2022 (see more in our Insight)  the British Retail Consortium (BRC), in consultation with Food and Drink Federation members, has produced its own guidance to help identify whether a product falls within a category in scope of the Food (Promotions and Placement) Regulations (England)

The BRC guidance provides a detailed table of the categories that fall within the scope of the regulations and gives various examples and exclusions within each category, with the aim to expand on the government guidance so there is a consistent approach to the interpretation of the regulations across the industry. It is important to remember that BRC is an industry body so unfortunately this is not government guidance, but is nevertheless interesting and may be useful for businesses. 

Precautionary allergen labelling: the ‘may contain’ consultation responses

On 6 June, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) published the responses to its consultation on the provision of precautionary allergen labelling (PAL) and precautionary allergen information, such as "may contain" on many types of food sold in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales. 

The following outcomes were found from the feedback:

  • Precautionary allergen labelling and information should be communicated more clearly and consistently in an understandable way and be based on proportionate and standardised processes for assessing, managing, and communicating the risk of allergen cross-contamination. 
  • Most stakeholders are open to regulatory change, as long as it does not impede on UK and international trade. 
  • Allergen thresholds need to be set to support the standardisation of risk analysis of allergen cross-contact for prepacked foods and that a PAL with standardised wording should be provided when set thresholds for allergens are exceeded.
  • Support for improving and standardising allergen information within supply chains, so that all food businesses receive the precautionary allergen information they need, alongside the ingredients they source, to help enable any communication of allergen cross-contact risk to their customers to be as accurate as possible.

The FSA will now use this feedback to develop a range of options to enable food businesses to understand their responsibilities and the steps that must follow prior to providing precautionary allergen labels and information. 


* 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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