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    Alarm raised by food industry over new Brexit checks

    (Photo by PAUL FAITH/AFP via Getty Images)

    Disruptions in food supply chain in expected as Britain is set to introduce new border bureaucracy on EU food and drink and imports for the first time since Brexit.

    The introduction of complex paperwork to certify all EU products of plant and animal origin entering the UK from Jan 31 risks fouling up the supply of a number of products, including pork and sugared liquid eggs used in cake and sauces.

    “The entire EHC [system] is based on stuff arriving on a slow boat from China. It is not designed for short shelf life and quick supply chains,” Financial Times quoted Karin Goodburn, director-general of the Chilled Food Association, as saying.

    She added that her members were “deeply concerned” about the impact of border delays on perishable products where shelf life was critical to their value. The introduction of the new border controls, with physical inspection beginning from the end of April, will see European companies facing the pain of border bureaucracy for the first time since the EU-UK post-Brexit trade deal came into force in January 2021.

    The Chilled Food Association has warned that UK health certificates do not always match industry requirements meaning that products such as liquid eggs mixed with sugar — a key ingredient for food businesses — will no longer be allowed to enter the UK. 

    The UK meat industry, which imports 50 per cent of its pork from Europe, said it was particularly concerned about the lack of official veterinarians in key markets such are German and Italy who are licensed to sign off consignments. The British Meat Processors Association said that the country is reliant on the EU for more than 700,000 tonnes of pork meat every year.

    “That volume means we are highly dependent on imports for market balance. If there is any delay there will be shortages,” said Peter Hardwick, trade policy adviser for the British Meat Processors Association.

    Adding to the confusion, the UK food department last week unexpectedly reclassified a range of fruit and vegetables from low to medium risk, meaning that produce such as apples, carrots and avocados will be subject to physical checks at the border alongside animal products. However, officials have not said when the checks will begin.

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