CIEH slams Government’s border approach

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

The Government's Irish border ideas are putting Northern Ireland's food supply at risk, it has been claimed
The Government's Irish border ideas are putting Northern Ireland's food supply at risk, it has been claimed
The UK Government has faced criticism over its post-Brexit plans for the Irish border.

In a report by the Daily Telegraph​, it was claimed that the UK’s proposals for avoiding a hard border in Ireland were dismissed as “unworkable​”.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) said that the Government’s current approach was “misguided”​ and “fails to recognise many of the central concerns about food”.

The CIEH believes that the Government is only focusing on “technological solutions”,​ which it said was not enough.

Tony Lewis, head of policy at CIEH, said: “It is very disappointing to see the Government continuing with this misguided approach to the key issue of the Northern Irish border post-Brexit.

“It has been made very clear to British negotiators that by solely pursuing technological solutions, they are ignoring the continuing need for physical inspection of food imported into the UK. Such inspections, by competent environmental health professionals, ensures that food is what it claims to be, comes from where it says it does and is safe.

“The apparent inability to distinguish between customs checks and food safety measures is deeply concerning, and we strongly urge the Government to talk to food safety professionals to ensure that our food supply and safety systems are properly prepared for Brexit.” 

In a recent report, the CIEH warned that Northern Ireland’s food supply could be a risk of serious disruption if the Government continued to neglect the border issue when conducting Brexit negotiations.

“Prime Minister Theresa May’s commitment to a ‘frictionless border’ cannot be fudged over food,” ​said report co-author Professor Tim Lang, of the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London.

“The Northern Ireland food system urgently needs some clear decisions to be taken by all sides in respect of ‘food Brexit’. This important issue is not, at present, receiving the attention that it deserves, and this failure of food governance should not be allowed to continue.”

According to the CIEH, Northern Ireland exports £1.15 billion worth of food to the EU, about 70% of which goes to or through the Republic of Ireland.

Last year, a group of experts warned that the food industry would be worst hit​ in the case of a ‘hard Brexit’.

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