Food Safety Conference

Food firms can’t plan for Brexit until given more information

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food safety conference Food United kingdom Eu

The government should tell food and drink manufacturers how it plans to transpose EU law into UK law before the sector can prepare for Brexit, says DWF’s head of food group Dominic Watkins.

Government needs to say if it plans to keep some European laws, or go through all 12,295 laws and adapt them for the UK, Watkins said. Government should then tell businesses how its changes would make the UK a more attractive market, so the sector can identify the risks and opportunities before Article 50 is triggered.

“What do we mean by transposing EU law into UK law?” ​said Watkins in this exclusive video interview, filmed at Food Manufacture’s food safety conference. “Are we talking about cutting and pasting? Are we talking about lists? Because that’s a big difference here.

‘That can’t be satisfactory’

“If we’re saying transposition means simply making a list of EU law that continues to take effect, well that can’t be satisfactory because it means we don’t have control over what’s going on. If it means cutting and pasting, are we going to go through every single one of those regulations to make sure all the cross-referencing works?”

The food sector also needed information on the future of its 100,000 non-UK EU nationals, Watkins added. He said it’s been a challenge to encourage people to work in the UK’s food industry, and he expected that challenge to continue.

“We may see impacts on people moving to Europe because they don’t want to have multiple production lines doing different things,”​ the DWF partner said. “We need consistency and we need certainty.

‘Need information to plan for the future’

“Right now, we need information to be able to plan or the future. If we don’t know what the future brings, how can we prepare and advise our respective businesses?”

Food Manufacture’s Food Safety Conference 2016 took place in London on Thursday October 13. The event was sponsored by Appetite Learning, GTS, Sealed air, Testo and the University of Greenwich.

Meanwhile, the GMB union said​ the food industry faced a “huge threat”​ due to a lack of effective Brexit planning by environment secretary Andrea Leadsom.

DWF head of food group on Brexit

  • Food firms need information on the future of sector’s non-UK EU nationals
  • Predicted difficulties in attracting workers to come to the UK
  • How will EU law be transposed into the UK?

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