UPDATE (13th March) the UK baby food trade body (BSNA) says its members will be manufacturing to the new EU standard.
Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 sets the maximum level of arsenic in some foods.
Regulation (EU) No 2023/465 of 3rd March 2023 amends the 2006 document to radically reduce the maximum arsenic limit in infant formula and baby food and set arsenic limits in rice, cereal, fruit juice and salt. The 2023 document enters into force on 26th March.
Long shelf life foodstuffs that met the higher arsenic limit before this change will be permitted to remain on the market until their limit of minimum durability or use-by date.
The new limits are set out in the replacement Annex (in the 2023 document) here.
Re Northern Ireland (Windsor Framework 2023) –
The EU and UK agreed new and simplified rules and procedures for the entry into Northern Ireland from Britain of certain agri-food retail goods where the goods are sent for final consumption in Northern Ireland:
Use of a general single certificate for mixed loads of agri-food goods.
Identity checks drastically reduced: down to 5% when all safeguards are in place, physical checks to be carried out on a risk basis and intelligence-led approach.
Application of UK public health standards (e.g. level of additives in food) to goods moved for end consumption in Northern Ireland. Previously prohibited chilled meats, such as sausages, are now allowed.
Removal of certificates for organics and wine.
Possibility to move goods originating in the rest of the world to Northern Ireland through Britain when UK conditions are identical to EU ones (specific list of products, including New Zealand lamb and vegetables).
Also, to protect the integrity of the EU Single Market:
The UK is constructing operational SPS Inspection facilities and provide EU representatives with access to relevant UK IT databases.
Labelling “not for EU” is to be used for products that will remain in Northern Ireland.
Identity checks will be progressively reduced as the labelling requirements are fully completed.
Monitoring will take place of the movement of retail goods; and there will be traceability and listing of the dispatching and receiving authorised establishments.
If the UK does not adopt the lower arsenic limits, it may be that two sorts of foods are offered to the market in Northern Ireland –
The UK Government has enacted The Official Controls (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2023, in force on 2nd February 2023.
These Regulations make provision allowing the Secretary of State to implement specific elements of Article 64 of European Regulation (EU) 2017/625 on official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products, in Northern Ireland.
The EU document applies in Northern Ireland by virtue of the Withdrawal Agreement.
Regulation 3 provides that the Secretary of State may do anything that the Secretary of State considers appropriate in connection with the construction of facilities for the purpose of performing official controls.
It also makes provision for the Secretary of State to direct the competent authority in Northern Ireland to recruit and employ staff to implement Article 64 in Northern Ireland.
As a result, border post construction for the purposes of SPS checks on goods likely to cross the border into the EU (on the island of Ireland) can be expected to commence.
Manufacturing, factories and transport operations are not listed as restricted operations and are expected to stay open, with the workplace adjusted to ensure social distancing, and symptomatic workers sent home to recover. Some operations will also be able to be carried out via home working.
Transport workers are classed as essential workers with respect to their children attending school.