Continuing with its theme of ‘smarter regulation’ as a means of realising ‘the benefits’ of having left the EU, the UK Government is consulting on proposals to amend its nutrition and health claims laws which are intended to apply throughout Great Britain. The consultation which closes on 31 October 2023 can be found at:
The two proposals subject to the consultation process are perhaps not as dramatic as might be thought, but the first one may have significant implications for businesses and indeed for competent authorities.
Proposal 1 would reform the enforcement procedure in England by introducing the power to issue improvement notices for alleged non-compliance. The current enforcement regime only permits a criminal prosecution to be taken to enforce the legislation (Nutrition and Health Claims (England) Regulations 2007). Those Regulations enforce the provisions of retained EU law, Regulation 1924/2006 where an unauthorised health or nutrition claim is made in a commercial communication (for example on labelling or in advertising). This is not always as straightforward to prove as might first appear.
The consultation states that ‘enforcement authorities would be able to act more quickly to deal with non-compliance and businesses would be able to respond faster to ensure compliance, while potentially avoiding costly and burdensome court proceedings for both parties.’ If the improvement notice regime does become law, businesses must be provided with an appeal mechanism to challenge the enforcement action through the courts or Tribunal system. They must also urgently and proactively review their nutrition and health claims and identify any potential non-compliances that might be the subject of an improvement notice.
Proposal 2 is much more of an administrative provision in that it seeks to revoke 60 EU Commission Regulations which either approved or rejected applications for health claims.
Ian Thomas is a lawyer practising in Ireland and in England and Wales. He is very experienced in advising and representing food businesses across a wide range of food related matters and if we can help to solve your issues or advise on your compliance obligations please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute the provision of legal advice. You should always take independent legal advice in respect of any legal or regulatory issues you may be having.