Effects of Brexit on Food Hygiene.
Brexit V’s Food Hygiene:
If you think a major overhaul of the way food is regulated is a good thing, you couldn’t be more wrong. Food poisoning is at an all time high whilst consumer trust is at an all time low.
Food supply is dirty. Campylobacter bacteria has increased by 46% since 2008. The FSA (Food Standards Agency) plans a programme of changes which will do little or nothing to improve food safety or nutritional public health.
Many of the current regulations are implemented worldwide so when we leave the E.U these will not change as many of the E.U Laws will be transferred straight into U.K Law. Manufacturers will still have to comply with packaging and labelling guidelines specified by the E.U if they want to export their products.
On the flip side of that coin however, when the U.K leave the E.U the current regulations governing food hygiene will offer no legal protection until Parliament creates new laws. This could mean larger manufacturers who export products may cut corners to reduce costs knowing there are no legal penalties to face if something went wrong. This would then put consumers at risk from substandard hygiene practices.
The 2 Sisters Food Group is only one example of what can happen when profit rules over food safety, moral values and ethics. They were at the centre of a meat factory scandal and were found guilty of regulatory failures and poor hygiene at their poultry plants. These included date changing on batches of slaughtered chickens, inadequate use of protective clothing, inadequate cleaning processes and reintroducing poultry dropped on the floor to the production line. The company have since announced a major restructure of the business and have been released from emergency measures.
The conversion of E.U Law after Brexit will impact councils when it comes to protecting people from being served unsafe food. The LGA (Local Government Association) stated that all food premises in England should be forced to display ‘Scores on the Doors’ ratings when E.U Law is converted to U.K Law to improve food hygiene standards.
The LGA wants the government to empower councils by legally extending the mandatory display of ‘Scores on the Doors’ to England like Wales and Northern Ireland. This would raise consumer confidence and lower the need and cost of enforcement by councils. Any business failing to comply could be prosecuted.
61% of diners said they wouldn’t eat somewhere with a hygiene rating of 2 or below. 7% of businesses in England are rated 2 or below. By legalising the display of hygiene ratings you would give a more informed consumer choice, improve standards across the industry, fewer food poisoning incidents would occur as well as hospital admissions, economic costs would be reduced and restaurant revenues would be boosted.
Diners want to visit high quality establishments and hygiene is one of the reasons that drives their choice and how much they will spend. It is time for businesses to ensure they are committed to food hygiene.