Food & Agri Update Friday 14 April

Brexit border payment plans

The Border Target Operating Model: Draft for Feedback is published

The UK Government has published the draft Border Target Operating Model, setting out a new approach to importing into GB that will be progressively introduced from the end of October 2023 at The Border Target Operating Model: Draft for Feedback - GOV.UK (

The new Border Target Operating Model builds on the previous proposals agreed as part of the Brexit trade deal.

Under the plans, any products such as meat or dairy eligible for physical inspections will be forced to pay between £20-£43 per consignment to help the government “recover operating costs which are necessary to undertake physical inspections at BCPs [border control posts]”.

“The charge would apply to all eligible consignments, whether or not they are selected for a BCP inspection.”  For now, this is an estimate as the “final rates will be determined following consultation”. The Border Target Operating Model Draft for Feedback (

The new border model has also made changes to the process for many products.

‘Low-risk’ animal and plant products like oats and potatoes will no longer need export health certificates or phytosanitary certification, as initially planned.

However, ‘medium-risk’ animal and plant products like meat will still need the certificates from November and will go through physical checks from 31 January.

This means those sectors are still likely to remain disrupted due to the more rigorous checks at the border.  To try and ease the process, the government is planning a ‘trusted traders’ scheme to allow regular importers to avoid full border checks every time.

The government will allow for a feedback period from industry and other stakeholders before publishing a final version of the Border Target Operating Model in June.  Separate talks will be held with those moving goods from the Republic of Ireland into Great Britain.

The next main opportunity for feed back is a Cabinet Office In Person Event - London (Monday 17th April, 10am-4pm)

Purpose - Allow a diverse range of stakeholders to test and challenge the model with opportunity to have breakout sessions on specifics areas

Target audience - A wide range of industry groups and stakeholders

There are restricted numbers to this event. To express an interest, please contact: [email protected]. Registration will close at midday, Wednesday 12th April.

Defra Engagement Activities

Lord Benyon will be hosting a Stakeholder Call on the SPS Regime on 19th April, 9.15-10am. This call is open to all and will provide a basic understanding of the SPS model to stakeholders who are less familiar with the detail and core concepts.

If you import or export: food, live animals, animal products, plants and/or plants products to or from the United Kingdom, Defra is also running a series of workshops and sector specific sessions. These will help you understand what the Border Target Operating Model will mean for your business, and give you a further opportunity to provide feedback on the proposals before they are finalised. They will include more information on risk-based controls, groupage models and trusted trader schemes.

You can sign up to the Lord Benyon stakeholder call and find a full list of the Defra-led sector specific and online events on Eventbrite  Target Operating Model: Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) border proposals Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite.

Sector specific sessions

  • Tuesday 2 May, 12:30-1:30pm: Dairy sector
  • Tuesday 2 May, 11-12pm: Animal by products
  • Wednesday 3 May, 2-3pm: Fishery products, aquaculture and aquatics
  • Wednesday 3 May, 3-4pm: Fresh Produce industry (fruit, vegetables etc..)
  • Thursday 4 May, 10-11: Live Animals and Germinals sector
  • Thursday 4 May, 11-12pm: Composite products
  • Thursday 4 May, 2-3pm: Meat sector
  • Thursday 4 May, 4-5pm: Plants and Ornamental sector

Trusted Trader / Authorised Operator Status sessions

  • Thursday 27 April, 3-4pm: Authorised Operator Status (AOS) - plants focused
  • Wednesday 10 May, 11-12pm: Trusted Trader workshop - animal focused

For any further queries or questions on the draft Border Target Operating Model, please contact [email protected].

Modernised food hygiene delivery model

Consultation update – 3 April 2023- 30 June 2023:
Consultation on developing a modernised food hygiene delivery model in England
Read more:

The proposal highlights the following developments: 

  • a modernised food hygiene intervention rating scheme 
  • an updated risk-based approach to the timescales for initial official controls of new food establishments, and for undertaking due official controls 
  • increased flexibility as to the methods and techniques of official controls that can be used to risk rate an establishment, including the appropriate use of remote assessment 
  • extending the activities that officers, such as Regulatory Support Officers, who do not hold a ‘suitable qualification’ for food hygiene can, if competent, undertake.

Scotland DRS 16 August deadline

Five leading supermarkets , Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Waitrose, Tesco and Asda have spoken out urging new Scottish first minister Humza Yousaf to shelve plans for the UK’s first deposit return scheme.

The proposed 16 August start date, will see supermarkets as the main focal point for the launch of the reverse vending machines set to be at the heart fo the scheme.

Pork Industry Crisis - Safety and Premium of Origin

In the UK, a food processor has been accused by former employees of “washing” hams that are visibly gone off, mixing rotting pork with fresh product for further processing and mislabelling products on country of origin. The allegations have brought the meat industry as a whole, and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in particular, under scrutiny.

The alleged fraudulent activity was exposed by Farmers Weekly in that apparently, a food manufacturer has been passing up to tens of thousands of tonnes of imported pork per week as British. The investigation suggests this was happening ‘until at least the end of 2020’.

The so far unnamed medium-sized processor is understood not be a primary processor with direct links to UK pork producers. 

Farmers Weekly reports that meat produced by the company ended up in products such as ready meals, quiches, sandwiches and other produce sold in Tesco, Asda, Co-op, Morrisons and Marks & Spencer.  Other customers include food manufacturer and distributor Oscar Mayer, which supplies Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Ikea, Subway and airline food producer Dnata, and major brands Princes and BidFood.

Farmers Weekly has seen evidence that showed Danish pork, which was only allowed to be sold on the mainland of China, was delivered to the factory. A former employee told the magazine that EU bacon medallions were being bought at £1/kg and sold on, as British, for about £12/kg.

The Food Standards Agency and the National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) are reported to have been aware of the activities taking place at the processor since 2020 and it is stated the investigation is active and ongoing.  Darren Davies, head of the NFCU confirmed that the agency is carrying out a criminal investigation into ‘how a supplier was allegedly providing products labelled as British when they were in fact sourced from elsewhere’.

Cheese Recall Continues

Cambridge Food Co said it would not be sending out any cheese until after the Easter weekend, while recalls take place and cleaning and disinfecting continued at the dairy.

The Cambridge Food Company, trading as Cheese+, has recalled several of its cheeses due to listeria contamination fears.

It has recalled more than 25 lines of cheese that may have been cross-contaminated with listeria monocytogenes from a contaminated batch of baronet cheese.

The company last month recalled its stock of The Old Cheese Room baronet and baby baronet soft cheeses due to the presence of listeria monocytogenes in some batches.

Somerset Cheese Company last week recalled some lines following the presence of listeria in its Pennard Red goats cheese, though the company stressed it was at a low level.

United Nations FAO Sets Food Safety Priorities

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO) has published its Strategic Priorities for Food Safety 2022-2031, which were developed to “support members in continuing to improve food safety at all levels by providing scientific advice and strengthening their food safety capacities for efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems.” The key theme was collaboration between countries and businesses and sectors as well as public and private sectors. FAO Strategic Priorities for Food Safety within the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-2031

Italy rejects novel foods/lab grown meat

Italy’s government has backed proposals that would ban laboratory-produced meat and other synthetic foods.  The proposals, approved by ministers at the end of March, seek to ban synthetic foods produced from animal cells without killing the animal, and would apply to lab-produced fish and synthetic milk too. If the proposals go through, breaking the ban would attract fines of up to €60,000 (£53,000).

The proposed bill came after a series of government decrees banning the use of flour derived from insects such as crickets and locusts in pizza or pasta.

Last November, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared cell-cultured chicken for human consumption.  In 2020 Singapore gave regulatory approval for lab-grown chicken meat to be used in nuggets. 

So far no approval has been sought from the European Food Safety Authority, but within the European Commission it has been suggested that cell-based agriculture such as cultured meat could be approved on the basis of the environment.

If cultured meat were to gain EU approval Italy would not be able to oppose the sale within it’s border unless a relevant and proportionate health protection were identified, because of the free movement of goods and services.

Confectionary Sales upward Trend

The Grocer have reported that following the introduction of restrictions in October of placement of certain HFSS foods in retailers, there had been little impact on sales, with some retailers even reporting an increase in sales across confectionery, snacks and other HFSS goods.  The requirements were criticised for costing retailers time and money to reshuffle store layouts Confectionery sales up despite HFSS display ban, say retailers | News | The Grocer

ASA Rulings

Kendal Nutricare Ltd t/a Kendamil Upheld  Social media (own site), App (paid ad)  05 April 2023

A post on a formula milk manufacturer’s LinkedIn account and an in-app ad had the effect of marketing infant formula, confused between infant and follow-on formulas and made unauthorised health claims for infant formula.

The LinkedIn ad was found to be targeted at inducing consumers to find out more about the brand and the products shown, rather than at journalists with intent of creating a piece of editorial The ASA considered the use of the phrase “our award-winning Kendamil infant formula” and the inclusion of two Kendamil infant formula products packaging shots that contributed to that impression.

In looking at infant and follow on formula the ASA considered lack of clarity on which product was being referenced and ambiguity on the ages of the babies in the ads.

EC Regulation 2016/127 (retained in UK law) stated that nutrition and health claims should not be made by marketers in relation to infant formula. The CAP Code required that references to general benefits of a nutrient or food for overall good health or health-related well-being were acceptable only if accompanied by a specific authorised health claim. Health claims were defined as those that stated, suggested or implied a relationship between a food, drink or ingredient and health.

The ASA considered the claim “He’s growing stronger and stronger every day” to mean that Kendamil’s products could aid in the development of babies who consumed them, and was therefore a health claim. Because the ad had the effect of marketing infant formula, and it was not permitted to make health claims in relation to infant formula, the claim breached the Code.

The CAP Code stated that claims which stated or implied a food could prevent, treat or cure human disease were prohibited for foods; that requirement also applied to infant and follow-on formulas. The ASA considered that consumers would understand from the claim “It really helped my daughter’s colic and silent reflux” that Kendamil’s products could treat colic and silent reflux in babies. The ASA therefore considered the ad made disease treatment claims for a food and concluded that it breached the Code.

DEFRA updates

Plan for Water: new funding available for farmers

Defra announced on 4 April that farmers will benefit from more funding as part of a new integrated plan to improve water quality for people, businesses and nature.

The measures see more funding for farmers to improve their slurry storage, with nearly £34 million available through the first round of the Slurry Infrastructure Grant - more than double the original budget following very high demand from farmers. Slurry Infrastructure grants: first round summary and our next steps - Farming (

Defra also outlined the second round of the Water Management Grant, which will open for applications in mid-April. It will provide £10 million in funding to help farmers manage their water use through more efficient irrigation and securing water supplies through the construction of on-farm reservoirs. Water Management grants: get ready for round 2 - Farming (

The Integrated Plan for Water Plan for Water: our integrated plan for delivering clean and plentiful water - GOV.UK ( covers both the quality of the water environment – how clean it is – and how much water we have. 

Government announces plan to ensure fairness and transparency across pig sector supply chain

Defra has outlined new support for the pig sector, including a commitment to bring in regulation on pig contracts to support the supply chain and provide greater certainty across the whole sector. Summary of responses and UK government response - GOV.UK (

These new regulations will help to increase stability and security to the pig supply chain, strengthening the sector’s position to deal with the challenges currently being faced, such as rising costs and labour shortages caused by global pressures.

The move follows a public consultation last year, which received nearly 400 responses from producers, processors and others in the supply chain. A majority of respondents supported our approach to implement legally-binding, written contracts through legislation. Defra will also develop regulations to collect and share more supply chain data, particularly in relation to wholesale price transparency and national slaughter numbers.

The EU Green Claims Directive

On 22 March the Commission published a Proposal for a Directive on substantiation and communication of explicit environmental claims (the Green Claims Directive) Proposal for a Directive on green claims ( after this having been trailed for a number of months.  

An ‘explicit environmental claim’ is defined as an environmental claim that is in textual form or contained in an environmental label. The proposed Directive on Green Claims targets claims made by businesses that state or imply a positive environmental impact, lesser negative impact, no impact, or improvement over time for their products, services, or organisation. The proposal requires that these green claims must be substantiated and this substantiation be verified ex-ante.

 The UK has a similar approach that was set out by the Competition and Markets Authority in 2021.  guidance on environmental claims on goods and services and a summary can be accessed here.

What prompted it: a Commission study from 2020 found that 53.3% of the claims examined were vague, misleading or unfounded, and 40% were completely unsubstantiated. The huge variety of ‘green' labels (some 230 were identified) was also found in itself to undermine consumer trust, as labels differ widely in robustness and reliability, leading to widespread scepticism. The proposal is part of the wider Commission’s circular economy objectives.

Timings: the Proposal will now go through the co-decision procedure involving the Member States and the European Parliament for the next 6 months.

Overall aim of the proposal: The Commission is proposing new rules to stop companies from making misleading claims about environmental merits of their products and services (greenwashing); stop the proliferation of public and private environmental labels; and, ultimately, it will allow consumers to make informed environmental choices.

Outside and Within EU

Businesses that are based outside the EU and make voluntary environmental claims directed at EU consumers will also have to respect the requirements set out in the proposed directive.

The measures foreseen include a ban on new environmental labelling schemes developed by private operators in the EU or from external partners who operate on the EU market, unless they can prove to Member States their added value for the EU market in terms of their environmental ambition or coverage of impacts. Such schemes will be subject to a notification and approval by the Commission.

 Key points:

  • Green claims need prior clearance and be based on verifiable scientific evidence
  • Greenwashing crackdown to restrict climate claims, offsetting and environmental labelling schemes
  • [The proposal takes a particularly tough line on climate-related claims that products or companies are “climate neutral”, “carbon neutral”, “100% CO2 compensated” or similar as these have been shown to be particularly prone to being unclear and ambiguous, and to mislead consumer.. The proposal tackles climate claims relying on offsetting, such as planting trees; the Commission insists that Companies should focus on reducing emissions in their own organisation or value chain. When climate-related claims are made, companies have to be transparent about what part of that claim concerns their own operations, and what part relies on buying offsets. There are also requirements on the integrity of the offsets themselves as well as on their correct accounting.  Currently, many trees planted as part of offsetting schemes were going to be planted anyway or do not really offset the level of emissions claimed]
  • Green claims to be subject to market surveillance with fines for non-compliance
  • The proposal only concerns claims that are not currently covered by other EU rules. This means that if EU legislation establishes more specific rules on environmental claims for a particular sector or product category, such as the EU Ecolabel, energy efficiency label, or organic farming label, those rules will prevail over those of the proposal.
  • Different types of claims would be needed for different levels of substantiation. The proposed Directive would not require a single method nor conducting a full life-cycle analysis for each type of a claim.
  • Members States’s responsibility:
  • Member States will be responsible for setting up verification and enforcement processes, to be performed by independent and accredited verifiers, as follows:
  • Claims must be substantiated with scientific evidence that is widely recognised, identifying the relevant environmental impacts and any trade-offs between them  
  • If products or organisations are compared with other products and organisations, these comparisons must be fair and based on equivalent information and data  
  • Claims or labels that use aggregate scoring of the product's overall environmental impact on, for example, biodiversity, climate, water consumption, soil, etc., shall not be permitted, unless set in EU rules
  • Environmental labelling schemes should be solid and reliable, and their proliferation must be controlled. EU level schemes should be encouraged, new public schemes, unless developed at EU level, will not be allowed, and new private schemes are only allowed if they can show higher environmental ambition than existing ones and get a pre-approval
  • Environmental labels must be transparent, verified by a third party, and regularly reviewed.

EU Horizon Scanning – Sustainable Food Systems

The EU’s framework for a sustainable food systems (FSFS) law prepared by DG SANTE is expected in the 3rd quarter of this year. Legislative framework (

Its goal is to accelerate and make the transition to sustainable food systems easier. It will also have as its core objective the promotion of policy coherence at EU and national level, mainstream sustainability in all food-related policies and strengthen the resilience of food systems.

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Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

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