A recent report from the Food Ethics Council has highlighted that Brexit could pose both “huge risks” to UK food safety standards, as well as an “opportune time”, which was echoed by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).

The new report notes that Brexit will have “seismic implications for the UK’s food and farming systems” with one of the risks being that “UK food standards might be eroded in the rush to secure international trade deals”.

It also calls for “food systems awash with fairness, not chickens washed with chlorine”, adding that “more than ever, now is an opportune time for the UK Government and Devolved Administrations to consider the UK’s place in the world – including the importance attached to ‘good’ food and farming”.

Echoing the Food Ethics Council’s remarks, CIEH mentioned that Brexit “does create other concerns, with the UK’s wider food and farming industries potentially being negatively affected, especially if a hard border is created in Ireland, and customs and other checkpoints are brought in elsewhere”.

It added that there are also public health concerns if cheap and unhealthy processed food is allowed to flood the UK market, creating additional health risks.

However, it outlined that Brexit has created the opportunity for the UK to review its food safety and environmental standards, and take a path that allows it to pursue higher standards than ever before.

Tony Lewis, head of policy at CIEH, commented: “CIEH has been consistently calling on the Government to commit to maintain our high food and environmental standards in the pursuit of new trade deals with third countries, and we strongly welcomed Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s previous comments outlining his vision of a post-Brexit UK being a world leader in food sustainability and environmental stewardship.”

He added that Brexit allows for the UK to look at adopting a much more sustainable ‘circular’ food economy, that is good for our environment, our health, our wellbeing, and our economy.

Lewis concluded: “Although there are certainly risks, there is also considerable opportunity for the Government to improve standards and boost food sustainability, but only if they are prepared to grasp the opportunity.”