Brexit will result in changes to the regulations that dictate what appears on pharmaceutical and some food packaging.
Currently nutritional information is agreed across the EU and meets stringent requirements to prevent inaccurate health or other claims. However, once the UK is no longer part of the EU, it must set its own standards. While these are likely to mirror those for member countries, the potential exists for artwork changes.
This applies also to pharmaceutical packaging and patient information leaflets. These can remain in multiple languages, says the Department of Health and Society, but the information must meet UK rules. For the immediate period the current UK guidance which meets the relevant EU regulation, remains in place.
But new products coming to market must be built around those listed in the UK Register or be submitted to the UK Register for approval and packaging must only make claims that are am approved part of the UK Register. Likewise any foods that are exported to the EU countries must also have any claims about nutrition or health vetted by the EU authorities.
Any company wishing to change its pharmaceutical packaging, its health food claims or for baby foods, recovery supplements or other nutritional foods, must have these agreed with the department to ensure that they comply. Animal food product labelling may also be affected.
One change that is definitely coming is to the packaging of tobacco products. The copyright to the images used as part of the health warnings is held by the EU. The UK authorities have provided information on the new system for picture warnings which has been issued directly to companies in the industry. Though as little tobacco packaging is produced in the UK, the impact on the industry will be minimal. Products for vaping or e-cigarettes, do not need to carry a pictorial warning.
Food and pharmaceutical products, however, are produced in the UK, frequently in batches that involve distribution in multiple EU countries. Packaging producers will need to implement an additional layer to check the integrity of packaging as the regulations move out of sync or in different directions over the coming years.
By Gareth Ward
After Brexit the way that certain types of packaging is designed may change. Until then there will be little difference between designs produced now and those after 1 November, until the regulations move out of sync.