I have received a number of emails from constituents who are concerned by recent media reports that UK food standards will be lowered as part of future trade deals with other countries.
I have both sought and received an assurance that we will not compromise on our standards from the Secretary of State for International Trade and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs.
The manifesto which I stood on last December is clear that in all of our trade negotiations we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare, and food standards, and I remain firmly committed to supporting farmers and our agricultural sector by not undermining the quality of our meat and produce.
The standards in question 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 – meaning we will not allow chlorine-washed chicken (or any other poultry) to enter the UK. Any changes to existing food safety legislation would require new legislation to be brought before this Parliament.
The UK’s food standards, for both 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 in order 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.
All parts of the UK should be proud of our world-leading food, health, and animal welfare standards and I do not intend to vote for those same standards to be lowered in any future trade agreement.