How Does Food Safety Look Post Brexit?
Uncompromisingly hard-boiled? Soft and a little bit runny in the middle? Or, well and truly scrambled with extra Tabasco sauce? Based on last week’s shenanigans in the House of Commons the only recipe it seems our politicians know.
We could, however, soon have a new food safety recipe from across the Atlantic. Genetically modified eggs, sunny side up and served with a cheeky tang of chlorine.
Should we ever leave the EU and be free to negotiate trade deals across the globe, one of the first and most important will be with our good ole cousins – the Americans.
A deal that, according to recent press reports, will put our food and farming industry well and truly in the front line of negotiations.
‘Frankenstein food comes to Britain’ as the headlines will no doubt scream again. Genetically modified cereals. Hormone injected beef. And chlorine-washed chicken – will be forced upon us under a transatlantic trade deal by those freewheeling, food safety reckless, free trade Yanks. To the total horror of the British farming lobby, of course.
Well, unfortunately, it’s not called ‘Free Trade’ for nothing. The clue is in the title, and, after all, didn’t we Brits invent the great original public health food scandal? Salmonella in eggs, BSE, and ‘Horse Meat Gate’ – along with lots of added sprinkles of Foot and Mouth down the years?
Food Safety Inspectors
Indeed, the numbers don’t stack up either. The Food Standards Agency has approximately 550 meat inspectors to cover all animals for meat slaughter in England and Wales. That, for a population of some 58.7m people. In the United States, the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service employs approximately 6,200 inspectors (11 times more than England and Wales) to cover a population of 327m people or just 5.5 times more than England and Wales.
So, put simply the United States deploys approximately twice as many food safety inspectors per head of population than we do.
There is a painfully simple solution to the issue. It’s totally democratic and would be underpinned by the will of the people. Now there’s an innovative, groundbreaking idea! Perhaps, it will catch on in political circles – and perhaps genetically modified, chlorine-washed, hormone injected pigs will fly…….
It is often said, partly in jest, that EU rules are written by the Germans, slavishly and dutifully followed by the UK, bypassed and worked around by the French and plain ignored by the Spanish and Italians.
However, it does mean we do have very good food labelling regulations. Added together with a highly concentrated, highly efficient and effective multiple supermarket industry, who take their brands and ongoing brand integrity very, very seriously.
We can be proud of our high food safety standards and high levels of customer information we have in the UK.
So, let the people decide. Let them choose with their wallets and purses. British beef over Irish beef over American USDA beef – or even Japanese Kobe beef for that matter!
It’s simply about the labelling, not the political jockeying of the many and various farming and trade lobbies.
If British chicken genuinely tastes better, is more succulent and tasty, and can justify the price premium, then all will be fine…………or maybe even Finest!