Windsor Framework Defra Guidance Published
Windsor Framework Defra Guidance Published on 9 June 2023 ahead of a phased roll out for additional food labelling requirements in force from 1 October. The Windsor Framework - further detail and publications - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The implementation of the Framework will happen in stages through into 2025.
Some arrangements are already in force. On 1 May 2023 a temporary VAT zero-rate was introduced in Northern Ireland for the domestic installation of solar panels, insulation, heat pumps and other energy saving materials
From 30 September/1 October 2023, the new sanitary and phytosanitary “green lane” arrangements will take effect: including a new Retail Movement Scheme for agrifood retail products; new rules to allow plants to move smoothly in to Northern Ireland; and new arrangements to enable seed potatoes to move once again from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
From September 2024, the full “green lane” will take effect for the movement of all goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Agrifood retail products into Northern Ireland are currently supported under the Scheme for the Temporary Agrifood Movements to Northern Ireland (STAMNI). This will be replaced in October 2023 by a new scheme, the Retail Movement Scheme. This will be available to a much broader range of traders, removing checks and complex certification requirements, and enabling goods made to UK public health standards to be moved.
Formal registration for the new scheme will be launched in September 2023. In the meantime, traders are able to register their interest through a pre-registration process. The STAMNI scheme will remain in operation until these new arrangements enter into force. All existing members of the STAMNI scheme will be contacted directly regarding moving seamlessly to the new scheme.
Under the Retail Movement Scheme some food products will need individual product labels with the words ‘Not for EU’. These requirements will be brought in through 3 phases from October 2023 to July 2025.
From 1 October 2023 all meat products and some fresh dairy products that are moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will need to be individually labelled.
In the first phase, only products moving into Northern Ireland under the Retail Movement Scheme will need to meet the labelling requirements. From phase 2, the government intends to introduce labelling requirements for Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales).
From 1 October 2024, in addition to the phase 1 products, all milk and dairy products moving to Northern Ireland under the Retail Movement Scheme will need to be individually labelled.
At this stage, all meat and dairy products in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) would also need to be individually labelled.
From 1 July 2025, composite products, fruit, vegetables and fish moving to Northern Ireland under the Retail Movement Scheme will also need to be individually labelled. The same products in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) would also need to be individually labelled.
Not all products moved under the Retail Movement Scheme need to be individually labelled.
Exemptions include products sold loose or by weight on the sales premises at the consumer’s request, products processed and sold on the sales premises by a retailer, for direct consumption, products for sale in a factory canteen, institutional canteen, restaurant, or other similar food service operators that are intended for eating on the spot in Northern Ireland, Shelf-stable composite products. Products that meet UK public health standards; and those not requiring certification or controls at agri-food points of entry under the Official Controls Regulation, including tea, sugar, jam, wine, cereals, processed or canned fruit and vegetables.
Also, if products are individually labelled, you will not need to label the box, nor provide appropriate signage.
The government has allowed for a 30 day transitio period at the start of each phase, which neans that goods that are already on the market will not need to be re-labelled and will be able to be sold during that period.
In addition to the labelling changes, Defra also revealed some green lane processed products of animal origin (POAO) goods will need a export health certificate, albeit more simplified.
The government has so far said that “movements will use a single General Certificate” rather than multiple certificates, but further details on this EHC are still to come.
This is an enormous change that has been undertaken with very little consultation for industry and one that will be resource intensive for a sector that already has been under pressure. The time line before additional labelling is required is likely to mean an amount of product using the red channels in any event.
Industry opinion is already strongly that a ‘not for EU’ labelling on a GB-wide basis is unnecessary and will fail to deliver any practical benefits for shoppers or businesses. Instead, it is likely to increase costs, and undermine exports and investment.
BOGOF Deal reprieve?
The Food (Promotion and Placement) (England) Regulations 2021 restriction of certain HFSS products by location came into force on 1 October 2022. The restriction of certain HFSS products by volume price ie ‘BOGOF’ Buy One Get One Free Deals was postponed and is scheduled to come into force on 1 October 2023 this year.
There is speculation this may be postponed again or removed altogether after Rishi Sunak told the House of Commons this week that “no final decision” had been taken over whether the ban would come in as planned.
The government delayed the introduction planned for last October but went ahead with a ban on HFSS promotions in prominent store locations.
Opponents to the ban point to the Department for Health’s own assessment, which says banning the promotional deals will only reduce daily intake by a maximum of four calories – the equivalent of a single grape – while households could miss out on an annual £634 saving (as estimated by Public Health England in 2015, they concluded it could cost households £634 a year and that consumers use these offers as a ‘coping mechanism’ during periods of high inflation.)
EFRA Free Trade Agreement Review Following Brexit
The Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Efra) committee has launched an inquiry into the UK’s post-Brexit trade deals over concerns of how they could impact the British agrifood sector.
The cross-party parliamentary investigation will look at how deals with Australia and New Zealand, as well as the latest trans-pacific negotiations, could affect British businesses and consumers – particularly in areas like food safety and standards.
In a report of October 2022, the International Trade Committee outlined that the Government’s commitments to support scrutiny do not go far enough, and need reviewing and extending. It calls on the Government to agree to scheduling a Parliamentary debate on all new trade agreements. MPs must be given the opportunity to use their ability to delay ratification of a deal if they consider this the most appropriate course of action to allow full debate of objectives.
It quoted an adviser to the government, Henry Dimbleby, as saying that a failure to adopt a ‘core standards’ approach to animal welfare and the environment, while negotiating free trade agreements, poses a danger of “exporting cruelty and carbon emissions abroad”.
The Efra Inquiry launched this month will investigate the opportunities and challenges that these FTAs will present for UK food and agricultural supply chains.
The inquiry will seek clarity on the consistency of the UK’s agri-food trade strategy. It will investigate the cumulative impact of various trade deals on the sector and what support is available to food producers where lower import taxes, or tariffs, apply on food imports.
The UK’s first major trade deals since Brexit, with Australia and New Zealand, officially started earlier this month.
It is also in the final stages of negotiating a further agreement with the trans-pacific bloc – which includes countries like Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico and Peru – as well as being in trade talks with the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) and India.
Efra will also look into whether the government’s approach to agrifood trade is aligned with its commitment to human rights and environmental protection.
FSA Notice to retailers: Plastic containers or utensils containing bamboo
Food Standards Authority has published a Notice to businesses stating they should not be selling plastic containers or utensils which contain bamboo and other plant-based materials, as a call for evidence on their safety is made. Notice to retailers: Plastic containers or utensils containing bamboo | Food Standards Agency 12 June 2023.
Businesses are being told that they should not be selling plastic containers or utensils which contain bamboo and other plant-based materials, for example rice husks, wheat straw and hemp.
The Food Standards Agency is also encouraging retailers and other businesses to respond to a call for evidence, launched today, to help determine the long-term safety of food contact materials which contain bamboo and similar plant-based materials in the UK. Until these products have been fully assessed and authorised, they will not be able to remain on the market, and products currently on the market should be withdrawn.
An initial assessment of the risks presented by food contact plastics with added bamboo has been carried out by the Committee on Toxicity (COT), the independent group of scientists which provides advice to the FSA and other government departments and agencies on matters concerning the toxicity of chemicals.
The COT determined that, in some cases, the presence of bamboo and similar plant-based matter in plastic materials could result in the migration of the plastic components, such as formaldehyde or melamine, into food or drink above their legal limit. Whilst it is very unlikely that the initial use of these products would result in an immediate health risk, the long-term impacts from regular use of such items remains uncertain due to a lack of evidence.
As a result of this initial assessment, consumers are being advised – as a precautionary measure – that they should not use such products until a full study into the potential risks can be completed.
Extra caution should be taken to avoid using the utensils or containers to eat and drink hot and acidic foods and drinks, or to place them in the microwave, as this may make it more likely that elevated amounts of harmful chemicals will be released.
Commonly identified products made using plastic containing bamboo and similar materials include reusable drinking cups; tableware and cutlery; lunchboxes; and chopping boards. Additional products include plates, bowls, and cups including some specifically marketed as crockery sets to infants and children.
ASA Rulimgs –
Meaning of what is ‘Material’ in omitting ‘material’ information that may mislead
- Television, Video on demand
- 14 June 2023
A TV ad and video on demand (VOD) ad for a water company misleadingly omitted material information about its history of releasing sewage into the environment.
- Not upheld
- 14 June 2023
A TV ad for a water company did not mislead or omit significant information.
The Competition and Markets Authority 6 principles for environmental claims lists a key point as not misleading or omitting ‘material’ information when making a claim. This week there were two separate complaints made about water companies; one upheld and the other not. These were decided upon what constituted ‘material’ information that may be omitted or not in making environmental claims. In these instances what was material or not made up the overall findings for a company rather than meaning an absence of any contrary instances at all.
Anglian Water’s ad was held that the overall impression was that Anglian Water was making, and intended to make, a positive overall environmental contribution as a company. As part of that contribution, they were increasing their pipe network, cleaning water using nature and installing tanks to collect storm water, which would have positive benefits for wildlife and nature. The ASA considered that the voice-over, which stated, “In fact, everything they do today is for tomorrow” and the visuals used in the ads, which included various clips of green spaces, trees and wildlife, contributed to that impression.
In 2021, which the ASA understood was the most recent year for which data was available, Anglian Water had an overall Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA) rating of two stars (out of a possible four), which meant that the ‘company requires improvement’. The EPA report stated that they performed below target (amber status) for the number of sewerage pollution incidents and for their compliance with their discharge permit. Their performance was significantly below target (red status) for the number of serious pollution incidents. Furthermore, Anglian Water had had enforcement action against them on multiple occasions in recent years for Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR) offences.
The ASA accepted that Anglian Water were carrying out a number of activities that could have a positive impact on the environment. However, because they also carried out activities that caused harm to the environment, which contradicted the overall impression of the ad, the ASA considered that was material information which should have been made clear in the ads.
Severn Trent Water
Likewise, Severn Trent Water were making, and intended to make, a positive overall environmental contribution as a company. As part of that contribution, they were undertaking an environmentally beneficial activity by planting one point three million trees, which would have positive benefits for nature and the environment. The ASA considered that the voice-over which stated, “Let’s do right by our environment, our community, our water” and the visuals used in the ads, which included various clips of nature imagery, contributed to that impression.
in December 2021, Severn Trent were fined for sewage discharges from a number of their sewage treatment works that occurred during 2018. Their Environmental Performance Assessment (EPA) report from 2021 stated that they performed better than target (green status) for the number of sewerage pollution incidents and for their compliance with their discharge permit, although their performance was below target (amber status) for the number of serious pollution incidents. From 2019 to 2021, which the ASA understood was the most recent year for which data was available, Severn Trent had overall EPA ratings of four stars (out of a possible four), which meant that they were classed as an ‘industry leading company’. Therefore, although there were areas of performance below target, their recent overall environmental performance was good.
Because their overall environmental performance did not contradict the overall impression of the ad, the ASA did not consider that their history of releasing sewage into the environment was ‘material’ information that needed to be included in the ad to prevent viewers from being misled. The ASA therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead.
Food and agri sector businesses may well have old water tanks and cooling towers on site. A recent case underlined the obligation to manage the water storage on sites.
Riaar Plastics Limited, West Midlands, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £11,000 in costs at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on 2 June 2023.
Five people were infected with the potentially deadly lung infection. One person was taken to intensive care and put on a ventilator after being infected.
Riaar Plastics Limited was fined for failing to manage the risk of Legionella. HSE found the water-cooling towers inherited by Riaar Plastics Limited at its site on Black Lake, West Bromwich, were in an extremely poor condition. This allowed Legionella bacteria to grow in the water-cooling towers and pipes, exposing employees and members of the public to risks of significant ill health.
People can get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in air that contains the Legionella bacteria. HSE guidance can be found at: Legionella and legionnaires’ disease – HSE.
Exposure to Legionella can cause death or serious illness where water cooling systems are not been managed effectively. It is really important that proactive management of the risk from Legionella bacteria is taken seriously.
Manufacturer fined £80,000 after machine operator loses fingers
Wherever there is machinery operated on by workers it is important the isolation of moving parts is properly risk assessed.
John Cotton Group Limited has been fined £80,000 after a machine operator had his hand drawn into a machine resulting in having three fingers amputated.
The incident occurred due to there being inadequate procedures in place to allow safe interventions with machinery.
The operative had noticed a fault with the machine and in an attempt to resolve the issue, tried to power down the machine to allow access. However, the machine was still moving, and his left hand contacted dangerous moving parts.
An investigation by HSE found John Cotton Group Limited, had not made adequate arrangements to prevent access to dangerous moving parts of the machine. The company failed to provide a sufficiently robust procedure for powering down the machine to allow safe access. There was also inadequate training, monitoring and supervision of employees for dealing with problems with the machine.
Employers should make sure they have a robust procedure for isolating machinery, and they have appropriate training, supervision and monitoring to ensure it is adhered to.
Guidance on machinery interventions and safety is available.
Working in hot weather - Employer's Responsibilities to Workers