No Deal Brexit Could See Food Imports Brought to a Standstill

Publication Date: 20th September 2017

Subject: Food safety

Food imports to the UK could be brought to a standstill as a result of the need for new food safety checks, if the Government is unable to conclude a trade deal with the European Union.

Currently, food imports to the UK from Europe meet EU-wide standards. However, this is not guaranteed to be the case following Brexit.

The potential for delays comes as additional checks on imported food would have to be carried out at British ports, with the cost being passed on to UK consumers. 

Appearing on this morning’s Today Programme, John Averns, Port Health and Public Protection Director at the City of London Corporation, and Member of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, outlined the threat of checks currently reserved for meat from the rest of the world having to be applied to meat coming the EU in order to keep up consumer protection standards. Resulting in potential gridlock.

Speaking earlier, Tony Lewis, Head of Policy at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said:

“It is vital that this issue has been raised, and we share John Averns’ fear that a cliff-edge Brexit could see UK consumers suffer as food imports grind to a halt and prices rise.

Maintaining high levels of food safety standards across the UK following Brexit is imperative, and without a deal on this with the EU, additional checks will simply have to happen to protect British consumers.

Owen Paterson MP’s response on the Today Programme to these very real concerns shows a lack of understanding of the issues and the nuances of the food inspection regime.

It is essential that the Government takes this matter seriously and puts in place a plan that allows food to continue to enter the UK seamlessly.”


Notes to editors 

John Avern appeared on the Today Programme with John Humphries on 20/09/2017, 1 hour and 33 minutes into the programme, and can be listened to on the BBC iPlayer:

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About the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH):   

The CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing more than 9,000 members working in the public, private and non-profit sectors. It ensures the highest standards of professional competence in its members, in the belief that through environmental health action people's health can be improved. 

Environmental health has an important and unique contribution to make to improving public health and reducing health inequalities. The CIEH campaigns to ensure that government policy addresses the needs of communities and business in achieving and maintaining improvements to health and health protection.  

For more information visit and follow the CIEH on Twitter @The_CIEH



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