On Thursday 22 August, the UK Government issued its first batch of technical notices on what would happen in the event of a no deal BREXIT at the end of March 2019. Included with these was “Producing and processing organic food if there’s no Brexit deal”.
As expected, up to the 29 March 2019 nothing changes. After that, we would expect a transition period to allow food on the shelves to be sold; the saleability of food already labelled but not on retail shelves is questionable and we do not foresee an allowance for using up label stocks.
Following a no deal BREXIT, the UK Government intends to follow EU Organic food standards, with these being written into UK law with the references to the EU being removed. Packaging would need to change – UK organic operators would not be permitted to use the EU Organic logo, however the use of certifying bodies logos would not be affected. DEFRA is carrying out research into the production of a possible UK Organic logo.
In addition, UK businesses would only be allowed to export to the EU if they were certified by an organic control body recognised and approved by the EU to operate in the UK. The current recognition of UK organic control bodies will cease with the UK leaving the EU, they will then need to apply for certification as third control country bodies, a process that can take up to 9 months.
A new traceability scheme will be put in place to replace the current EU TRACES NT system to maintain the traceability of organic products.
The Industry’s main concern is the gap in the ability of UK organic certifying bodies to certify UK-based producers as EU compliant, and it is hoped that by following EU requirements this process will be minimised.