Further to a new report from the Food Ethics Council highlighting that Brexit could pose a threat to UK food safety standards, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has echoed the warning but pointed to the opportunities to improve standards that Brexit offers.
The new report says that Brexit will have serious implications for the UK’s food and farming industries, and warns against a race to the bottom on standards in order to secure trade deals. The spectre of lower standards as the price of new trade deals has been illustrated by the debate over American chlorinated chicken.
Brexit does create other concerns, with the UK’s wider food and farming industries potentially being negatively affected, especially if a hard border is created in Ireland, and customs and other checkpoints are brought in elsewhere.
In addition, there are public health concerns if cheap and unhealthy processed food is allowed to flood the UK market, creating additional health risks.
However, Brexit has now also created the opportunity for the UK to review its food safety and environmental standards, and take a path that allows it to pursue higher standards than ever before.
Tony Lewis, Head of Policy at CIEH, said:
“CIEH has been consistently calling on the Government to commit to maintain our high food and environmental standards in the pursuit of new trade deals with third countries, and we strongly welcomed Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s previous comments outlining his vision of a post-Brexit UK being a world leader in food sustainability and environmental stewardship.
Brexit allows for the UK to look at adopting a much more sustainable “circular” food economy, that is good for our environment, our health, our wellbeing, and our economy.
Although there are certainly risks, there is also considerable opportunity for the Government to improve standards and boost food sustainability, but only if they are prepared to grasp the opportunity.”