It slammed claims that UK border issues could be resolved simply though technology as misguided and irresponsible.
The comments were responses to statements from politicians over the past week pushing technology as the way to resolve border issues, notably in Northern Ireland, should the UK leave the EU without a deal.
Technological solutions could enable customs checks on cross border trade to be rapidly conducted, but food imported to the UK from EU countries still require physical hygiene inspection, said the CIEH.
Checks conducted by Environmental Health professionals at UK ports include physically entering lorries and containers to inspect food, test it and – if necessary – detain it, pending further examination.
Head of Policy Tony Lewis said the vital issue of food had been overlooked by politicians and commentators, who should know better.
“It may well be an inconvenient truth, but physical inspections on food being imported into the UK in the event of a no-deal scenario are incredibly important. Suspending such interventions would open up the UK food system to heightened levels of food fraud and other criminality.
“Given that such controls are key to the health of the British public post Brexit, it is misguided and irresponsible to suggest that technology will solve all border issues.”
Warning not been heard
The CIEH raised concerns that clear warnings had seemingly not been heard in some quarters. It called on the Government to take the matter seriously and commit to ensure that out food safety and standards were not “sacrificed on the altar of political ideology”.
Meanwhile, the Government has been warned that a no-deal Brexit scenario could result in food being delayed at borders due to a shortage of vets.
In a report from the National Audit Office, which outlined the progress being made on the UK’s exit from the EU, it warned that the food industry could be particularly damaged if no deal is agreed.