Stringent regulation, which currently restricts controversial US food produce sitting on UK supermarket shelves, could be stripped away, with minimal parliamentary scrutiny through Statutory Instruments (SIs), the UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) has claimed.
The EU Withdrawal Act 2018 allowed the creation of more than 10,000 pages of new legislation to retain EU rules, including on food safety. Some of these provided extensive scope for ministers to make future changes to food safety legislation through the use of SIs – enabling them to amend, revoke and make regulations.
No-deal presents most risk
UKTPO said the risk was most applicable in the event of a no-deal or in the scenario of a basic free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU, whereby the UK Government would be under pressure to make a success of Brexit through new trade agreements.
“The concern is that ministers have extensive scope to make significant food safety concessions in order to reach an agreement with the US potentially in the face of opposition from consumers or food producers who would worry about losing access to the EU market,” said Dr Emily Lydgate, fellow of the UKTPO.