Major livestock chemical trading changes post-Brexit

By Keith Nuthall

- Last updated on GMT

Much EU law would remain on UK statute books post-Brexit under the government's Great Repeal Bill
Much EU law would remain on UK statute books post-Brexit under the government's Great Repeal Bill

Related tags: Eu, European union

Brexit could shake up British meat and livestock industry-related chemical manufacturers and their trading partners in Europe, according to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

The agency has released a database seeking to advise chemical producers of how their legal obligations will change. ECHA warned British companies: “If your business is in any way part of a supply chain that links you to businesses located within the 27 EU member states remaining after the UK’s withdrawal, you will face some fundamental changes.”

Importantly, UK suppliers of food additives, packaging inks and other food manufacturing chemicals will have an obligation, by May 2018, to register chemicals under EU chemical control system REACH that are made or imported in annual quantities of between one and 100 tonnes. Yet, on 29 March 2019, those registrations will become null and void, following Brexit.

As a result, meat and livestock companies based in the EU (or the European Economic Area – EEA - countries of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), may have to re-register such chemicals themselves, if they want to continue buying them from the British supplier that registered them in the first place.

There are two other options, the ECHA guidance states.

Two other options

The British chemical manufacturer can relocate to the remaining EU or EEA or appoint what is called an ‘Only Representative’ within the remaining EU/EEA. This is a company or person who is authorised to make the relevant filing under REACH and be legally responsible for ensuring a British exporter complies with EU rules.

Also, where a UK company is a lead registrant for registrations of chemicals involving other companies, including those in the remaining EU, these registrations would also expire post-Brexit, warned ECHA, and companies wanting to ensure their products can be legally sold under REACH would have to appoint a new lead registrant. The British lead registrant would have to move to the remaining EU, or it would become an EU-based ‘Only Representative’.

Another potential risk for UK companies concerns biocides, a critically important category of chemicals for the meat and livestock sector. The EU is undertaking a review of all biocidal chemicals used in Europe, to check their safety, under the EU’s biocidal products regulation (BPR). Ultimately, biocidal chemicals sold in the EU need to be formally authorised under the system, with authorisation holders having to be established within the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. So, UK companies with an authorisation to sell biocidal chemicals into these EU and associated companies would have to seek an authorisation to do so from a company based in these export markets.

There is less concern over the fact that a Britain post-Brexit would not be covered by the EU’s CLP (classification labelling and packaging) regulation, mainly because it is assumed that this law would end up on the UK Statute Book, via the government’s so-called ‘Great Repeal Bill’. Also, the labelling elements of this legislation that are based on the United Nations’ Global Harmonised System (GHS) will remain obligatory in Britain, as the UK will still implement the GHS. “Thus, for example, the pictograms will be valid within the UK,” ​said ECHA.

For more ECHA guidance, click here​.

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