Food Law News - UK - 2013

DEFRA Consultation letter, 10 July 2013

FORTIFICATION - Consultation on revoking Regulation 4 of the Spreadable Fats (Marketing Standards) and Milk and Milk Products (Protection of  Designations) (England) Regulations 2008

I am writing to invite views on a proposed  amendment to the Spreadable Fats (Marketing Standards) and Milk and Milk Products (Protection of Designations) (England) Regulations 2008.

The reason for the change is that Government is committed to reducing the number of regulations industry and others have to navigate as part of the ‘Red Tape Challenge’.  The aim is to ensure regulations provide proportionate, effective and risk- based enforcement of EU obligations in our domestic law.

Regulation 4 of the Spreadable Fats (Marketing Standards) and Milk and Milk Products (Protection of Designations) (England) Regulations 2008 requires the fortification of margarine with vitamins A and D.  This goes beyond EU requirements and is therefore ‘gold plating’ which places an unnecessary burden on business.  We are therefore proposing to remove this requirement by revoking regulation 4.


Informal consultation with industry suggests that only a small number of small producers in the UK make a fat spread that would legally qualify as margarine. Therefore, almost all fat spreads made in England do not need to meet this fortification requirement, but producers do so on a voluntary basis as it has become the industry standard.


Analysis of National Diet and Nutrition Survey  shows that fat spreads in total (excluding butter) contribute about a fifth of vitamin D intake and 5-10% of vitamin A intake. However the vast majority of this is from voluntarily fortified reduced and low fat spreads rather than margarine. No health concerns are expected to be raised regarding abolishing this requirement. The cost of fortification is so low, we believe manufacturers would continue to fortify voluntarily if mandatory fortification was removed.


An impact assessment looked at the option of replacing the current regulations with a new Statutory Instrument with the mandatory requirement to fortify margarine with vitamins A and D removed and replacing criminal sanctions for breaching the regulations with civil sanctions.  The costs associated with this option were attributed to familiarisation costs for local trading standards officers (one-off transition costs). The benefits would be likely to originate from both industry and enforcement bodies of using compliance notices instead of criminal sanctions. However, given that we expect there to be very few margarine producers, and therefore very few, if any, enforcement cases, these benefits would be very small or non-existent. Therefore, although this option would simplify the regulatory landscape, the measure could impose a small overall cost. 

On this basis we are proposing that regulation 4 of The Spreadable Fats (Marketing Standards) and the Milk and Milk Products (Protection of Designations) (England) Regulations 2008  which makes it a requirement for margarine to be fortified if sold, simply be revoked.  This will mean that it will no longer be a criminal offence to sell unfortified margarine.

This consultation started on 10 July 2013 and all responses should be received by 7 August 2013.

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