Food and Drink Assimilated Law Consultation

Closed 25 Jun 2024

Opened 14 May 2024



Leaving the European Union (EU) has given us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to review how we make and shape the United Kingdom’s (UK) regulatory framework for food and drink.  

We are in the process of evaluating assimilated laws inherited from the EU – previously known as retained EU laws (REUL) – to ensure they continue to meet our needs. We are delivering a programme of reforms and revocations to take control of our legislation and regulations, and move forward in a direction that benefits the UK.  

In this consultation, we are seeking views on a list of 60 food, drink and other assimilated laws that the UK and devolved governments: 

- believe to be obsolete or require amending 

- would like to revoke or amend in order to update the statute book  

This would enable us to take ownership of our regulatory framework. 

In this consultation, when we use the term ‘obsolete’ we are referring to legislation which is considered redundant because the regulation relates to a requirement, scheme or agreement which is no longer in operation, or is no longer relevant to the UK. For instance, the legislation may amend a statutory instrument (SI) that has already been revoked. As such, the legislation is not actively contributing to our domestic standards.  


What is assimilated law? 

Retained EU law was a category of UK law that was established by The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to ensure legal certainty and continuity immediately after Brexit, by incorporating and preserving certain EU and EU-derived law as it stood immediately before 11pm on 31 December 2020. However, retained EU law was never intended to sit on the statute book indefinitely. This is why, from 1 January 2024, it has been assimilated into the UK statute book and is now known as assimilated law.  

Furthermore, the UK Government is delivering a programme of reforms and revocations for these assimilated laws from the EU in accordance with our role as an independent trading nation following our departure from the EU.  

What is The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023?  

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 allows the UK to take the next step in reasserting the sovereignty of Parliament.  

The 2023 Act: 

- abolishes the supremacy of EU law in relation to all UK law 

- removes general principles of EU law from all UK law 

- enables EU-derived law to be more easily amended, revoked and replaced 


Agriculture and food are devolved topics; however, common issues have been identified across the UK. So, for simplicity and efficiency, the UK Government, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive have agreed to issue a joint consultation led by Defra. 

What is this consultation seeking views on? 

Recognising that inheriting EU laws was intended as an interim measure between EU law and UK law, using The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023, the UK Government is now reviewing assimilated laws from the EU and delivering a programme of reforms and revocations to take control of our laws and regulations and move forward in a direction that benefits the UK. 

This consultation is seeking views on a list of food, drink and other assimilated laws inherited from the EU that the government believes is obsolete and intend to revoke or which needs to be amended to take into account the domestic law context in which it now applies.  

This consultation is limited to the revocation and amendment of the legislation listed in the embedded draft SI and summary table. It is not seeking comments about any other legislation or any other food and drink regulation or policy. As such, any responses received that relate to wider issues, including wider food and drink issues not relevant to this consultation, will not be considered when formulating the consultation response. 

Why your views matter

We are seeking your views on the draft statutory instrument ahead of its future introduction into Parliament for approval, to ensure that the policy delivers as intended, effectively and with no unintended consequences.

What happens next

Following this consultation, Defra will publish a response to the findings from this consultation to outline timings and next steps. 


  • Food Industry


  • Food standards
  • Protected food names