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The Food Law Landscape in 2015

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Peter Bennett, head of the Food and Drink team at specialist law firm Roythornes, has listed his top five legal themes for 2015.

Free From

The growth in free-from foods has been explosive and is likely to continue for years to come. Over the past five years the industry has more than doubled in value – up from £173.5m to £355.1m.  As it stands there are few regulatory controls that govern the production of free-from foods specifically other than the Food Labelling (Declaration of Allergens) Regulations 2008 which requires allergens to be listed. It is likely that focus on the sector will grow in the coming year and regulatory guidance may be considered to ensure a consistent interpretation across the industry.

Labelling

The advent of the EU’s Food Information Regulations (FIR) will hit home in 2015. Further guidance for everyone across the food and drink supply chains is still to come and many manufacturers are still not ready to meet the new requirements. Issues over enforcement and significant fines (magistrates can now impose unlimited fines) are likely to be a regular occurrence over the next 12 months.

Overtime holiday pay

The UK Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has recently ruled under the Working Time Regulations (WTR) that non-guaranteed overtime should be factored in when calculating the amount of holiday pay that an employee is entitled to. While the ruling is still subject to the appeals process, this could come at a significant cost to the UK’s food and drink sector which relies on flexible work patterns to meet seasonal demands. The industry as a whole will pay close attention to how the case develops.  Read our briefing on holiday pay and overtime here.

EU membership

The growing furore over the UK’s membership in the EU is of great importance to the food and drink sector. Import and export licencing practices as well as a raft of other legislative requirements are dictated by EU regulations and laws. This means that there will not only be financial implications should trade arrangements be affected but wholesale changes to areas such as employment and labelling should the UK leave the Union.

Food Crime Unit

The creation of a food crime unit within the FSA is the most significant outcome of the Elliot Report. However, the true scope of the Unit and its powers are yet to be fully understood and 2015 will be a very important year for the FSA’s latest investigating body as it seeks to establish its authority in the industry.

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