Katia Merten-Lentz, partner and EU law expert at Keller and Heckman, warned the UK would have no choice in following the EU’s example if it wanted to continue to trade with the Single Market.
While the UK would be free to change labelling and even the legal definition of food within its borders, if it didn’t fit the European standard, it wouldn’t be accepted in the EU.
‘Issues at the borders’
“If you change labels, then you might face issues at the borders,” she said. “To keep a fluent exchange of goods, the UK cannot drastically change labelling. The UK will have to follow the European lines without being part of the decision-making process.”
Merten-Lentz also argued it would be in the best interest of producers to conform with EU legislation on food safety, since UK consumers were already accustomed to the high level of standards that come with it. Any change could lead to consumers losing trust in the safety of their food.
“In my opinion, UK consumers trust European standards,” she added. “I cannot believe that the UK can change – for financial reasons or otherwise – the way it informs consumers about food.”