As the end of the Brexit transition period approaches we look at what’s been decided so far for food standards.
Which? research consistently tells us people in the UK care strongly about the food we eat.
A Which? survey of 2,112 UK adults in September this year found 94% of people told us they think it’s important to maintain existing food standards and more than 200,000 people supported our ‘Save our food standards‘ campaign.
It’s clear UK consumers don’t want food produced to lower standards or with lower animal welfare standards to be imported into the UK. This includes chicken washed with chlorine, beef produced using growth hormones or crops grown with pesticides currently banned in the UK.
Which?, and other organisations, were concerned that UK food standards could easily be changed and compromised, with little scrutiny, in exchange for a trade deal.
As a result we called on the government to include in the Agriculture Bill their commitment to upholding existing food standards in all future trade deals. Here’s what happened next.
Changes to the Agriculture Bill
Which?’s demands were supported by the House of Lords and they amended the Agriculture Bill to uphold food standards explicitly.
Unfortunately this amendment was not supported by a majority in the House of Commons so was not included in the Bill.
However, the government did provide more details on its commitment to uphold food standards, and changed the Bill to provide more scrutiny of trade deals in respect to the impact on:
- human, animal or plant life or health
- animal welfare
- the environment
The Government has also committed to increase the lifespan of the Trade and Agriculture Commission from 6 months to 3 years. However, the membership of the Commission is narrow and there is currently no consumer representation.
- Find out more: Which? reveals what consumers want from trade deals
Future trade deals
While there will be no further changes or amendments to the Agriculture Bill as it has now become law, our work is not done.
Which? will continue to work to ensure consumers are represented on the Trade and Agriculture Commission and to influence the National Food Strategy.
We will continue to scrutinise trade deals and trade policy to ensure they meet the government’s commitments to uphold UK food standards.
And food standards are just on of several issues that are important to Which?, and to consumers.
These include data security and consumers’ digital rights, protecting the environment, and addressing regional inequalities across the UK.
We’ll be working to ensure trade deals deliver for consumers across all of these important areas.
You can read more about post-Brexit trade deals and how they affect you here.