Brexit: Changes to health and identification marks

EU Exit guidance for businesses that use the health and identification marks for food products of animal origin such as meat, egg products, fish, cheese and milk.
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This guidance explains what you need to know in relation to health and identification marks:

  • during the current extension to Article 50
  • if the UK agrees a deal with the EU
  • if the UK exits the EU without a deal

Food Standards Scotland will be publishing similar guidance for approved establishments located in Scotland.

Using health and ID marks before the UK leaves the EU

The current EC health and identification marks applied to POAO produced in the UK should continue to be used until the day the UK leaves the EU.  New marks should not be used before the exit date.

If the UK and EU agree a deal

If the UK and the EU agree a deal, the current EC health and identification marks applied to POAO produced in the UK would continue to be used for the duration of any agreed implementation period.

If the UK exits the EU without a deal

If the UK leaves the EU without a negotiated deal, competent authorities and food businesses in the UK will not be able to apply the current ‘EC’ health and identification marks to certain POAO which have been produced in a UK-approved establishment.

This means a revised form of the health and identifications marks will need to be used from day one onwards for certain POAO produced in the UK and placed on the UK, EU and non- EU country markets.

Default health and identification marks to be applied if the UK leaves the EU without a deal

To promote a consistent approach across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, FSA and DAERA staff will in the first instance apply the GB health mark, which is the official two-digit ISO code for the UK, unless otherwise requested. These health marks have been distributed to all inspection teams in operational establishments in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Food Standards Scotland are making similar arrangements in Scotland.

Whilst there is no obligation on food businesses to apply a default ‘GB’ Identification mark, ideally the identification marks should replicate the ‘GB’ health mark applied by FSA and DAERA staff. This will reduce the risk of confusing or misleading customers and enforcement authorities further along the supply chain.

Products produced in the UK carrying the GB identification mark can be placed on the UK, EU and non-EU markets.

Examples of the GB health and identification mark

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Alternative health and identification marks

If your business requires an alternative health mark, such as ‘UK’ or ‘UNITED KINGDOM’, you should first discuss this requirement with the relevant Competent Authority for example the FSA in England and Wales, or DAERA in NI.  

You should be aware that the UK health and identification marks applied to products produced in the UK will not be eligible for export to the EU market. Products carrying the UK health and identification marks are acceptable on the UK and non-EU markets.

Products using the UNITED KINGDOM health and identification marks are acceptable in the UK, EU and non-EU markets.

Examples of the UK and UNITED KINGDOM identification mark

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Examples of the UK and UNITED KINGDOM health mark

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Existing stocks of ‘EC’ identification marks

Industry may continue to use wrapping and packaging carrying the ‘EC’ identification mark for a period of 21 months following the exit date for products placed on the UK market. This does not apply to products for export.

Size and dimension of the health marks

All marks must be legible and indelible. The health mark must be an oval mark at least 6.5 cm wide by 4.5 cm. It must contain either the ‘UK’ or ‘GB’ abbreviation or full country name ‘UNITED KINGDOM’, followed by the approval number of the establishment.

Letters must be at least 0.8 cm high and figures at least 1 cm high.

The dimensions and characters of the health mark may be reduced for health marking of lamb, kids and piglets.

Size and dimension of the identification marks

There is no minimum or maximum size for the identification mark. The mark must contain the ‘UK’ or ‘GB’ abbreviation, or full country name ‘UNITED KINGDOM’ followed by the approval number of the establishment.