Food Law News - UK - 2003

FSA Consultation Letter, 6 February 2003

LABELLING - Regulations on the Composition and Labelling of Meat Products

Following the Agency's recent public consultation on the Meat Products (England) Regulations 2003, the letter provides an update on the progress the FSA are making.

Food Labelling Amendment Regulations

Directive 2001/101, which provides the new European definition of meat for labelling purposes, came into force on 1 January 2003. The Directive includes a six-month transitional period until 1 July. Domestic Regulations to implement the definition (by means of an amendment to the Food Labelling Regulations) will be laid shortly, with a similar transition until 1 July. This means in practice that a meat product placed on the market after 1 July must carry a QUID declaration for the meat ingredients, calculated on the basis of the new definition. Before that date, manufacturers may choose either to provide a QUID on this basis, or in line with the definition of meat contained in the Meat Products and Spreadable Fish Products Regulations 1984 (MPSFPR).

Meat Products (England) Regulations 2003

The FSA will be putting a summary of responses to a previous consultation on the Agency's website. On consideration of the responses, the FSA have decided not to make any major changes to the detail of the draft Regulations circulated during the consultation though they may further clarify certain points in the Guidance Notes. They are also planning to issue summary guidance notes as well as the more comprehensive ones, which may be more suitable for small businesses. A validation exercise to confirm the approach taken in the Guidance Note to calculate meat content from recipes and typical values has just been completed. The FSA will be making that information available with the final Guidance Note.

The Agency notified the draft Regulations to the European Commission, both as a technical standard and under the provisions of the Food Labelling Directive (FLD). This notification is now being dealt with by DG-SANCO. They have since received an objection to Regulation 5 from one Member State, which unfortunately puts our Regulations on hold for a further 3 months from the end of December. The FSA are now waiting for a response from the Commission as to their view on the Regulations, but the FSA may have to re-examine Regulation 5 in light of those comments.

The standstill period finishes at the end of March, therefore it is now anticipated that the Meat Products (England) Regulations will be laid around late Spring. It is intended that the Regulations will provide a further six-month transitional period before compliance is required. The FSA shall write again when the coming into force date of the Regulations has been confirmed. At that time they will also be able to give information on the Commission's decision relating to Regulation 5, and therefore the final form of the Regulations. Finalised Guidance Notes will also be available at that time.

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