Food Standards Commission and Food Standards in Future Trade Deals

Thank you for writing to me with your concern that UK food standards will be lowered as part of future trade deals.

I can assure you that high food standards are a matter of great importance to me. The manifesto I stood on was clear that in all trade negotiations, our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards will not be compromised. The Government will stand firm in trade negotiations to ensure any deals live up to the values of our farmers and consumers.

I was pleased to recently receive a letter signed by both the Secretary of State for International Trade and the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

They made clear that they are firmly committed to upholding our high environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards outside the EU. They also emphasised that the EU Withdrawal Act will transfer all existing EU food safety provisions, including existing import requirements, onto the UK statute book.  

These import standards include a ban on using artificial growth hormones in domestic and imported products and set out that no products, other than potable water, are approved to decontaminate poultry carcases. This means that any changes to existing food safety legislation would require new legislation to be brought before this Parliament.

On the subject of a food standards commission, the UK’s domestic production and imports are overseen by the Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland. These are independent agencies and provide advice to the UK and Scottish governments. They will continue to do so to ensure that all food imports comply with the UK’s high safety standards. Decisions on these standards are a matter for the UK and will be made separately from any trade agreement. 

Finally, I am pleased that the Government is already engaging with the agricultural sector as part of its trade discussions, including the National Farmers Union. It is encouraging that Ministers share my determination to ensure our future trade agreements will deliver benefits for our brilliant farmers and food producers while promoting higher quality produce across the globe.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. I hope that the above has reassured you of this Government’s commitment to high food standards.