Government must be honest on suspending food regulations, say CIEH and Lord Bassam

05 September 2018, Ross Matthewman

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and Lord Bassam have strongly criticised the Government for its approach towards food safety in the United Kingdom post-Brexit.

There has been strong pressure on the Government to clarify its approach to both food regulations and maintaining the UK’s food supply after Brexit; specifically in the event of a “no deal” scenario. The Government has long said that it is committed to making sure that Britain is fed but had refused to offer any details of its plans or to properly engage stakeholders.

The vague statements from Ministers has stoked fears that the Government will simply suspend food regulation in the UK in the event of a “no deal” with the EU as well as ceasing the  inspection of imported food at Britain’s borders to speed up supply.

Growing pressure for clarity culminated yesterday in a House of Lords debate where Lord Bassam,  joined by Peers from across the political spectrum, demanded that the Government state whether they:

  • Are considering suspending food regulations
  • Will publish an impact assessment into the ramifications of suspending food regulations
  • Will work with experts and the food sector before making any final decisions

The Minister, Lord O’Shaughnessy, was only able to repeat that the Government is committed to high food standards and offered no further detail when pressed. 

Anne Godfrey, Chief Executive at CIEH, said:

“We are disappointed by the Minister’s refusal to properly engage with this incredibly important issue. The issue of the UK’s food standards and supply is not something that can be brushed under the carpet. The country needs urgent clarification from the Government on what it intends to do going to prepare for a post-Brexit landscape.

There is already great uncertainty at our ports, and within our supply chains, and it is high time the Government explained their thinking so we can prepare.” 

Lord Bassam said:

“This is another example of the Government simply not dealing with a vital issue in the correct manner. Either they have a plan and will not reveal it, or they are hoping to muddle through and improvise when the time comes. Either way, this is not good enough.

If there is a “no deal” will they suspend our food regulations? Where will our food come from? What is going to happen at our ports? How will our cherished high food standards be protected?

Parliament, industry, and the British people, deserve an answer.”


Notes to Editors

For enquiries, please contact Ross Matthewman, Public Affairs and PR Manager, on 0207 827 5922 or [email protected] 

About the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH):   

CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing more than 8,000 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. 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.

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