Major Moves Ahead for UK Wine Legislation
Defra is consulting on the UK wine industry. Wine Reforms Consultation 2023.pdf (defra.gov.uk)
The new legal framework will bring environmental benefits by encouraging more bulk movements of wine to GB for bottling. It will support our glass recycling targets and help producers to squeeze every drop of value from their harvests.
The consultation will be open for 9 weeks from 23 May 2023. Responses should be received by 21 July 2023
As well as Consolidating all retained EU law on wine, and domestic legislation into one comprehensive piece of legislation the consultation proposes the following measures:
- Importer Labelling re 'importer'
- Hybrid grape varieties
- Piquette - to be marketed as a wine product.
- Blending wines
- Foil wraps and mushroom stoppers
- Removing the wine certification arrangements
- Removing rules on bottle shapes.
- Revoking retained Regulation (EC) 2019/935 setting out GB methods of analysis and controls on enrichment
- Ice wine - definition to be applied
- Introducing new oenological practices
- Transforming wine sector products in Great Britain - Removing the restriction on transformation could allow for imported wine to be transformed in several ways. These include:
- • carbonation of imported wines
- • de-alcoholising wine
- • sweetening or reducing alcohol in wine
- • making wine from imported grape must
- • the import of grapes and the production of wine in GB
In all cases where an imported wine sector product is transformed (either by carbonation, sweetening, alcohol reduction, pressing and fermenting imported grapes), the origin of the finished product would remain that of where the grapes were harvested. For example, the sweetening of bulk imported Australian wine in Great Britain would not change that from being an Australian wine on the shelf. Another example would be Spanish grapes imported to Great Britain for pressing and fermenting – the resulting wine would continue to be marketed as a Spanish wine. The changes would enable products currently labelled as ‘British wine’ to become a wine of origin and be labelled according to the country of grape origin. Defra consider this will create an opportunity to redefine ‘British wine’ as ‘made wine’, addressing an issue that has the potential to confuse consumers.
Made Wine -
This is stated to be an opportunity for wine in Great Britain and the bottling and re-export industry, and lead to new, better quality and a variety of products being available to consumers.
- Low and no alcohol “Wine”
- Carbonation of imported wine
- Producing wine from imported grapes
New arrangements for recognising and recording oenological practices and processes approved in GB
Other minor reforms to retained EU law
Defra states their intention to remove provisions:
- • that prevent the over-pressing of grapes and require that a minimum level of alcohol should be left in the marc (the pomace consisting of grape skins and seeds) and lees (deposits of yeast) after pressing and rules concerning their disposal
- • that prevent the production of other beverages (in addition to alcohol spirit and Piquette) to be made from the fermentation of wine lees or marc
- • relating to practices whereby wine is fortified specifically for distillation
Defra further anticipate that there will be other minor amendments needed to wine law that will only come to light during the process of consolidating REUL into one cohesive framework.
Please see Major Defra Consultation on GB Wine Sector - Mills & Reeve (mills-reeve.com) for further detail
Guidance on Single Use Plastic legislation
Environmental Protection (Plastic Plates etc. and Polystyrene Containers etc.) (England) Regulations 2023 is due to come into force from 1 October 2023; Details - SI 2023 - Statutory Instruments - UK Parliament This will restrict the sale of all single-use plastic plates, trays and bowls, cutlery or balloon sticks, and ready-to-consume food and drink in polystyrene containers, to members of the public, even if these are recyclable or compostable .
Guidance on the legislation was published this week Single-use plastics ban: plates, bowls, trays, containers, cutlery and balloon sticks - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
However, there is a very wide ‘packaging’ exclusion ie (pre-filled or filled at the point of sale).
In the offence of supply of single-use plastic plates, trays or bowls to an end user, business to business supply and for manufacturing and ‘packaging’ is excluded from these requirements. ‘Packaging’ has the same meaning as in regulation 3 of the Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2015 The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2015 (legislation.gov.uk). Examples of packaging and non-packaging are provided in Schedule 5 of the Packaging Regulations The Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations 2015 (legislation.gov.uk)
Packaging, if designed and intended to be filled at the point of sale or pre-filled is the main exclusion for consumer facing retailers and this therefore will include: Paper or plastic carrier bags, disposable plates and cups, cling film, sandwich bags etc. Additionally, polystyrene containers are also permitted if the food or drink needs further preparation before it is consumed ie add water, toasted, microwaved.
Takeaway packaging is covered by extended producer responsibility legislation, due to be enacted in 2024 which will make manufacturers contribute to the cost of disposing of their plastic packaging. This therefore shows the dove-tailing of legislation depending on what is being done with the packaging/foodstuff. The main effect will therefore be on designated ‘non-packaging’ ie stirrer, disposable cutlery
It is likely that concepts of extended producer responsibility, recycling targets and reduction in landfill targets, deposit return schemes as well as plastics restrictions will all mean a mish-mash of requirements, especially combined with the upcoming EU Proposal Packaging and Packaging Waste (europa.eu) that represents a seismic shift into defined recycling requirements, specific targets and mandatory standards across Europe.
The difficulty will come where enforcement action is needed in deciphering where the exemptions begin and end, especially with the cost pressures the enforcement agencies are under (enforcement of HFSS promotion restrictions was reported Trading Standards set to receive just £35k to enforce HFSS rules | News | The Grocer as just £35k a year across all local authorities in England).
Dairy defined names including ‘sounds like’ plant alternatives
New draft guidance from the Food Standards & Information Focus Group is reportedly being prepared to help trading standards officers interpret and enforce laws on how dairy alternatives are described in packaging and marketing. The Grocer has reported this and last week The Times reported that the government had told companies it would not stand in the way of trading standards officers publishing new restrictions on the use of dairy terms.
However, the opinion issued earlier this year by the FSIFG was merely “an interpretation of existing law and does not propose to add new rules – it is intended to make labelling and marketing clearer and minimise opportunities for consumers to be misled”, stressed Dairy UK CEO Judith Bryans. Dairy alternatives name ban would be devastating, suppliers warn | News | The Grocer
Commentary: The dairy sector have vociferously defined legal names ie milk, butter etc. A key aspect of this defence has always been that consumers may be confused or misled on the product descriptor. The 2017 case, (ECJ ruling C-422/16) banned the use of terms such as “milk”, “butter”, and “yoghurt” for marketing non-animal products ie ‘soya-butter’, ‘rice-cream’ or ‘soya-milk’, it was held these terms can lead to confusion among consumers and should therefore be considered contrary to EU legislation.
In May 2021 the EU Parliament rejected (amendment 171) extending this to other descriptive terms such as “yogurt style” and “cheese alternative.”
Therefore terms, such as ‘yoghurt-style’, ‘alternative to cheese,’ or ‘butter substitute’ are still permitted as long as there is no likelihood of confusion for consumers.
It looks therefore as though this guidance will remain that each label should be assessed on a case by case basis and assess the likelihood of consumer confusion; although no such updated guidance has been published as yet.
Plant alternatives to meat – survey reports consumer confusion
A consumer survey of 1,004 shoppers, followed by in-depth interviews – undertaken by AHDB with research firm The Smithfield Collective – found that 57% of those polled initially hadn’t realised how many products were meat free.
A further 52% said having meat and meat-free products mixed together was potentially confusing, revealed the study, undertaken towards the end of last year.
In 2020 the EU Parliament voted against the restriction of terms used to describe meat products being reserved exclusively for products made from meat; therefore vegetarian and vegan burgers and sausages would have otherwise been classified as “discs and tubes”. ‘Meat’ is however legally defined.
The argument was that consumers are not misled by these terms, that are descriptive terms rather than defined names, and they play an important function in communicating characteristics that consumers are looking for when buying plant-based products, especially in terms of taste and texture.
France banned the use of certain meat terms for plant alternatives in October 2022. The official decree reads: ‘’It will not be possible to use sector-specific terminology traditionally associated with meat and fish to label products that do not belong to the animal world and which, in essence, are not comparable." The regulation is limited in that it will only apply to products manufactured or marketed in France, meaning imported products will still be able to use meat terms.
Kept Animals Bill scrapped
The government announced on Thursday 25 May that it would not progress the Kept Animals Bill, due to what farming minister Mark Spencer described as “considerable scope-creep” and will instead proceed separately with elements of the bill such as banning of the live export of animals for fattening and slaughter.
The legislation was to ban live exports of farm animals as well as clamping down on puppy smuggling and dog theft.
Frankenchicken case – High Court rejects welfare challenge
The High Court this week rejected a legal challenge by welfare charity The Humane League – supported by evidence from the RSPCA – which claimed Defra’s permitting of the rearing of chickens that were genetically selected to grow quickly were more likely to die or need to be culled due to ill health was unlawful in relation to the Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations 2007.
The ruling followed the launch of a judicial review by the group earlier this month, with The Humane League arguing the law stated, “animals cannot be kept for farming purposes if their genetics cause health and welfare problems”
Judge Sir Ross Cranston ruled that Defra's policies, which allow the rearing of such chickens, were not unlawful.
The court deemed it was up to the keepers of fast-growing breeds to ensure “that given their genotype or phenotype they can be kept in appropriate conditions without any obvious or deleterious effect on their health or welfare”
Defra did accept the fact that there were welfare problems with fast-growing breeds of chicken but claimed there was no scientific consensus that fast-growing breeds suffered detriment to their health or welfare in all environments.
Co-op – Max Stocking density of chickens
The Co-op committed to lowering the maximum stocking density of the chickens in its supply chain. fresh chickens reared with a reduced maximum stocking density of 30kg/m2 from the second half of 2024 – a 20% cut on the existing industry standard of 38kg/m2. The retailer stopped short of adopting the Better Chicken Commitment – which requires signatories to also change the type of birds used from ‘Frankenchickens’ to slower-growing breeds such as the Hubbard chicken – due to cost implications.
In September 2022, Marks and Spencer became the first retailer to commit to backing the pledge by selling only 100% slow-reared fresh chicken.
FSA Guidance - Here to Help hub
The Food Standards Agency has unveiled a new, easy-to-use online hub for food businesses, containing a raft of guidance and advice all in one place.
The regulator said the new Here to Help hub on the FSA website brought together its most popular guidance pages, including how to set up a food business, how to achieve a good food hygiene rating and how to manage allergens to keep customers safe. Guidance for food businesses | Food Standards Agency
ASEA LLC ASEA LLC - ASA | CAP Upheld Press general 24 May 2023
A press ad featuring a lifestyle supplement made unauthorised health claims and claimed to prevent, treat, or cure human disease.
The CAP Code required that only health claims authorised on the Great Britain nutrition and health claims register (the GB Register) were permitted in marketing communications for foods. The CAP Code defined health claims as those that stated, suggested or implied a relationship between a food, drink or ingredient and health.
Various claims were made that referenced immune function and hormone balance, as well as antioxidant efficiency and athletic performance.
The ASA had not seen any evidence which demonstrated that those claims were authorised on the GB Register, or that the Supplement met the conditions of use associated with any authorised claims.
The CAP Code also stated that general health claims could be made in relation to foods only if they were accompanied by a relevant specific, authorised health claim. General health claims were defined as those referring to a general benefit of a nutrient or food for overall good health or health-related well-being.
Wording including “Improves cardiovascular health” and “Promotes gut health […] Restores hormonal balance” were considered to be general health claims however, the ad did not contain any specific authorised health claims.
The CAP Code further prohibited claims that stated or implied a food could prevent, treat or cure human disease.
The ad included the claim “Regulates Inflammatory response”. The ASA considered that because inflammation was a symptom of adverse health conditions, this was a claim that the product could prevent, treat or cure human disease. The ad also featured the claim “100% kill in under 30 seconds for all tested bacteria and viruses (over 30 resistant strains)”. Ie this implied that the product could help in the prevention and treatment of bacterial and viral infections, and therefore was a claim to prevent, treat or cure human disease and these claims therefore breached the Code.
Transport firm fined £1.9m fine after fatal accident by reversing HGV
Two major transport companies have been fined a combined total of £2.2m after a fatality involving a HGV in Birmingham.
The depot manager of Turners (Soham) Limited was fatally injured when he was struck by a reversing HGV on 30 August 2019. The incident happened at the premises of The Haulage Group Ltd (previously known as Howell Group Ltd, when the vehicle reversed out of a parking space in the transport yard.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the companies had failed to manage the risk associated with workplace transport.
Turners (Soham) Limited of Suffolk pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £1.9m and ordered to pay costs of £7,300.
The Haulage Group Ltd of Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,300.
HSE Principal Inspector Amy Kalay stated after the hearing: “Both companies failed to recognise and control the risks associated with workplace transport, and in particular the dangers of reversing vehicles and poor visibility.
The principle of ensuring pedestrians and vehicles are kept apart is well known and the measures needed to ensure separation and control the risk need not be complicated.
If the companies had acted to identify and manage the risks involved, and to put a safe system of work in place, this incident would not have happened.”
HSE guidance on workplace transport safety is available here: workplace transport safety