Lord Teverson, chairman of the EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee, has asked the Government to detail the steps it is taking to mitigate the risks Brexit poses on the food and drink supply chain.
It followed a committee evidence session held on 4 July. The session heard from a number of high-profile food industry figures, including Food Standards Agency (FSA) chair Heather Hancock, Food and Drink Federation chief scientific officer Helen Munday, and Sue Davies, strategic policy adviser at Which?
EU’s Standing Committee
In a letter, dated 24 July and addressed to public health minister Steve Brine MP, Lord Teverson asked for clarity over whether the UK would still be a member of the EU’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF) both after Brexit and during any transition period.
It also enquired whether the UK would automatically follow the risk management decisions made by the EU once it had left.
Made up of experts representing EU governments, the PAFF Committee is the European body that in the majority of cases decides whether food safety legislation proposed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) should be ratified. Its UK representative is the FSA.
The public health minister has also told to clarify whether the UK Government supported the model being put forward by the FSA for how risk assessment decisions should be made post-Brexit and, if so, when the FSA would be given the required legal powers.
At the evidence session on 4 July, Hancock proposed a new advisory committee to fulfil the role of the Standing Committee, with the FSA undertaking EFSA’s risk assessment role.
In addition, the Lords committee has asked whether the UK would be ready to take on responsibility for food safety risk management decision-making in March 2019, in the event of no transition period being agreed.
The public health minister has been asked to clarify the steps taken to mitigate problems raised should the UK lose access to the EU’s Rapid Alert System, the Trade Control and Expert System, as well as other information sources.
Key committee questions
- Whether the UK will continue to participate in the EU’s food safety risk management process, and implement its decisions, during a transition period.
- Whether the UK Government supports the model being put forward by the Food Standards Agency for how decisions should be made post-Brexit and, if so, when it will be given the required legal powers.
- Whether the UK would be ready to take on responsibility for food safety risk management decision-making in March 2019, in the event of no transition period being agreed.
- Whether the future approach taken in the UK will include the principles of transparent, independent evidence-based decision-making embedded in the EU system.