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UK Food Safety Standards

Volume 628: debated on Thursday 7 September 2017

7. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the maintenance of UK food safety standards after the UK leaves the EU. (900645)

The UK Government are committed to maintaining food safety standards and ensuring that the UK has an effective food safety regulator. The Food Standards Agency is a science and evidence-based Department, responsible for protecting public health and consumers’ other interests. Any proposed changes in UK food safety rules once we have left the EU and are no longer subject to EU regulations would be subject to a rigorous risk assessment by the agency. Our absolute priority is to protect public health and consumers’ other interests in relation to food, and we will continue to base that on the best scientific evidence available.

Does the Minister agree with the Secretary of State for International Trade, who is on the record as having said that he is “relaxed” about the diminution of food safety standards post-Brexit, or will he now distance himself from those remarks?

The Government are committed to maintaining food standards, which will be a matter for the House of Commons to decide in future. I remind Members that the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will bring EU law, as it applies to the UK, into UK law, so that it will continue to apply.

The Government know that the UK relies on the EU for 25% of our food and that we grow just 15% of our own fruit and 55% of our own vegetables. The Minister is nostalgic for decades past, but—assuming that the Government do not intend UK households to return to consuming Spam and tinned peaches—can he assure us that he is not considering imposing tariffs on EU food imports?

The House has heard the word “fantasy” since it reconvened after the recess, and the hon. Lady has now put before it a fantastical proposal. We will ensure that the UK continues to enjoy the widest range of products available in our shops.