EU vote could hinge on government popularity

By Rick Pendrous contact

- Last updated on GMT

Rick Pendrous, editor, Food Manufacture
Rick Pendrous, editor, Food Manufacture

Related tags: United kingdom, Democracy

High levels of campylobacter in fresh supermarket chicken or a UK exit from the EU after a referendum: it's difficult to say which should be of more immediate concern to the nation’s food sector.

The latest test results from the Food Standards Agency's full-year survey on campylobacter on whole chicken bought in stores show retailers are still failing to meet the pathogen reduction targets they have been set.

Damages reputation

It damages the sector’s reputation and shows that it still has a lot more work to do. But, at least there is light at the end of the tunnel and hope that new technologies will come on stream over the coming year to cut levels of campylobacter contamination.

In contrast, the prospect of the UK leaving the EU – a so-called Brexit – within as little as five years after a referendum (which the government and others want to bring forward to next year to avoid clashing with general elections in Germany and France in 2017) will do far more permanent damage to the whole food and drink industry.

However, the Food and Drink Federation has started to mobilise its resources behind backing a ‘yes’ vote on whether the UK should remain part of the EU.

Sceptics

But, despite a number of business organisations, including the Confederation of British Industry and the EEF (the engineering employers' body) backing a ‘yes’ vote, there is a mountain to climb to convince a widely EU-sceptic public about the merits of staying in.

The likelihood of success could get even worse in 2016 when, after a year of swingeing (£12bn) public sector cuts, the government begins to fall out of favour with the electorate and if people decide to send a vote of no confidence in the Conservatives by voting ‘no’.

Related topics: Meat, poultry & seafood

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