Latest Public Sector News

30.05.18

Brexit could weaken councils’ ability to protect public health from 2020

A failure to protect access to key intelligence after Brexit will weaken councils’ abilities to protect public health and increase the risk of a new food scandal, the LGA has warned.

Currently, the UK is part of a European-wide framework of rules and systems that ensure traceability of high risk products, such as food, feed and animal products.

This system provides access to intelligence about product contamination, helping to build a picture about suspect suppliers, ensuring that regulatory officers at councils are able to target their enforcement activity and protect the public.

However, exiting the EU without an agreement on this matter would leave regulators “in limbo” from March 2019, according to the LGA.

Even under the terms of the draft EU-UK withdrawal agreement, access to these databases would  cease post-2020, and the LGA is warning councils of the increased risk to public health that this would pose.

Regular alerts are sent for threats such as pesticides residue, mercury, salmonella, and E. coli.

Therefore, the LGA is calling on the government and the EU to ensure that the UK’s access to these key mechanisms is maintained, whatever the form of the final Brexit agreement.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, chair of the LGA’s Brexit Taskforce, explained that losing access to this intelligence will mean that the UK will not be aware when rapid alerts are issued to the rest of the continent, significantly weakening its ability to protect the food system.

“After years of funding reductions for trading standards and environmental health, we simply do not have the capacity to increase checks to offset this risk, either at ports or inland, unless this is fully funded. 

“Without additional capacity, there is simply no alternative to continuing to receive and share this type of information.

“Continued access to these EU wide databases is of vital importance and the government and the European Union must ensure that it is maintained,” he concluded.

Top image: MicroStockHub

 

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