From October 1 this year new labels will have to be included on many of our favourite food products. Shoppers are already beginning to spot new labels among the supermarket shelves and soon, they’ll be everywhere.

But what are they, and what have they got to do with the European Union? Rebecca Kaya, Product Information Senior Advisor at food label consultants, Ashbury, explains why the new labels are being introduced.

Why do we need ‘Not for EU’ labels?

After Britain left the EU in 2020, trading between Northern Ireland (NI) and the UK became more difficult and expensive, thanks to the economic border between them. Differing food regulations and laws between UK and EU meant that products moving between them needed additional border checks and paperwork, which proved costly for exporters and importers.

The new ‘Not for EU’ labels are part of an agreement between the UK government and the EU called the ‘Windsor Framework.’

What does the Windsor Framework mean?

The ‘Windsor Framework’ is the colloquial name for the agreements between the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) to facilitate the freer movement of ‘retail goods’ from GB (England, Scotland and Wales) to Northern Ireland previously hampered by the divergence between GB rules on biosecurity and goods standards, and those of the EU which were applied in NI as part of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

It contains specific rules relating to the entry into NI from the other parts of the UK of certain consignments of retail goods including foods, plants for planting, seed potatoes, machinery and certain vehicles operated for agricultural or forestry purposes, as well as non-commercial movements of certain pet animals into NI.

A major part of the framework involves the creation of new green and red ‘lanes’ for imports. Coming in from October this year, the ‘green lane’ is for products coming into NI from GB that pose little to no risk of entering the EU from NI. These products must carry the new ‘Not for EU’ labels.

Opposing the ‘green lane’, a ‘red lane’ will exist for goods that are ‘at risk’ of entering the EU from NI. Here, full customs checks and declarations and EU biosecurity controls will continue to apply and no ‘Not for EU’ labelling is required.

Foods you can expect to see ‘Not for EU’ labels on

From October 1, ‘Not for EU’ labels will be included on pre-packed meat products and some dairy products. Pre-packaged meat can be chilled, frozen or dried, but it all needs to include the new ‘Not for EU’ label on the packaging. These include:

  • Red meats

Pre-packaged red meats such as beef, lamb, pork, steak, minced meat, veal and venison will all need to be labelled.

  • Poultry

Chicken, turkey and quail will all need to be labelled ‘Not for EU’. Products such as fresh roast chicken that is not pre-packaged will not need the new label.

  • Some dairy products

Pasteurised milk, buttermilk or cream products crossing into NI will need to be properly labelled. As will raw (unprocessed) cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream and crème fraiche.

From October 2024, all milk, cheese, yoghurt and ice cream will also need to include the new ‘Not for EU’ labels on the packaging. This is Phase One of the new regulation changes, and there will be many more changes on the way in the future.

For example, from 1st October 2024, in addition to the phase one products, all milk and dairy products moving to NI under the NI Retail Movement Scheme will also need to be labelled to use the ‘green lane’.

Only time will tell as to whether these changes will be positive or negative for the food industry, and there is still some debate as to how much the changes will ease friction at the UK - NI border. For now, shoppers can expect to start seeing these new labels being rolled out across supermarket shelves.

2023-09-21T07:16:52Z dg43tfdfdgfd