UK food standards now at risk as MPs reject key amendment, says CIEH

13 October 2020, Ross Matthewman

CIEH has reacted to last night’s news that a key amendment to the Agriculture Bill, aimed at protecting UK food standards in law, was rejected by MPs.

The Government saw off a potential rebellion as MPs voted by 332 to 279 to reject the amendment, previously passed in the House of Lords, proposing to enshrine food safety, animal welfare and environmental standards in UK law.

CIEH has been contacting MPs and peers, urging them to pressure the Government to keep its word on maintaining the UK’s high food standards as Britain prepares to leave the EU.

Negotiating away British food standards could have severe consequences for the environment, animal welfare, and public health, whilst undercutting British farmers.

Despite this setback, CIEH is continuing to lobby the Government to fully protect UK standards in the flagship Trade Bill currently making its way through parliament.

Gary McFarlane, CIEH Northern Ireland Director, said:

“We are extremely disappointed that the Government and MPs have chosen to reject this important amendment that would have ensured all food imports meet the UK’s high domestic standards.

The failure to guarantee UK standards will be maintained in future deal poses a serious threat to our environment, animal welfare, food safety, and, crucially, the public health of the nation.

As trade talks with the US and other countries progress, without legal protections, there is a real risk that products like chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef could soon be making their way to British dinner plates.

We are at a loss to understand why Ministers are ready to pay lip service to protecting our country’s cherished food standards but continually refuse to back up their commitments in legislation”.

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