Following the Government’s announcement that border checks on goods coming into the UK will be greatly reduced in the event of a "no deal" Brexit outcome, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has expressed serious concern that the move could compromise food safety, standards and potentially compromise public health.
In guidance issued by HMRC, "transitional simplified procedures" would be introduced for ferry routes from Europe, and for the Channel Tunnel, for at least a year if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
In essence, Lorries will be able to drive straight off ferries and Channel Tunnel trains without making customs declarations, with the importer only having to update the computer entry within 24 hours to confirm to HMRC that the goods had arrived.
However, customs checks aside, CIEH is concerned that the Government does not understand the need to maintain checks on food and goods coming in to the UK as an imperative measure in upholding the UK’s food standards and safety.
Gary McFarlane, Northern Ireland Director at CIEH, said:
"CIEH has long been concerned about how we will maintain our food safety and integrity in the absence of an agreement with the EU, and we have raised our concerns a number of times over the past 12 months.
This is not just about customs. The Government’s announcement appears to completely disregard the necessity of phyto-sanitary controls. In a no deal scenario, proper checks on food, as well as consumer goods, are essential to ensure public protection. These cannot be fudged.
Only last week there were official notifications, following an undercover investigation, about the entry into the food chain of meat from sick and diseased cattle originating from Poland. To abolish any food safety or standards checks at borders post Brexit in the absence of a sensible agreement would seriously compromise the health and safety of British citizens.
The Government must recognise, and accept, the need to either maintain the current EU system of phyto-sanitary controls or alternatively make provision and plans for the need for additional checks.
At this stage it is difficult how to see the latter could be achieved by 29th March."
Notes to Editors
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About the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH):
CIEH is the professional voice for environmental health representing almost 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.