TV chef Jamie Oliver has issued an impassioned plea to the Prime Minister not to undermine the UK’s high food production standards with cheap imports from the USA.
His call comes after MPs were whipped to vote against an Agriculture Bill amendment which would have banned low standard food imports under future trade deals from entering the UK.
The bill is now due to move to the House of Lords.
In an open letter printed in the Daily Mail and shared via video on social media, Mr Oliver said the PM’s actions would ‘seriously undermine public health’ and ‘unpick the delicate patchwork quilt of farmers and food producers who are the backbone of this country’.
He wrote: “We could be about to open the floodgates to a whole raft of low-quality food that would normally be illegal in the UK.
“What is more, we will be threatening the future of our farmers and food producers who, despite extraordinary challenges, have worked so hard to keep us fed throughout the Covid-19 crisis."
Mr Oliver noted some of the biggest emerging economies across the world are ‘hungry for a trusted and safe food supply’, which the UK can provide.
He said: “Brand Britain and its wealth of food producers are perfectly place to deliver, but if food standards are weakened, a race to the bottom will ensue – I believe it is a race we will lose.
“Public health will be compromised and our ability to export quality, trusted product will diminish.
“We should be striving to push trade partners’ standards up, not negotiations our own down.”
An advocate of child health for more than 20 years, Mr Oliver also expressed his concern about the impact bad trade deals could have on diets.
“Our kids will be the most vulnerable if our markets are flooded with unhealthy foods high in fat, salt and sugar,” he said.
“We have just seen that being obese or overweight made people more vulnerable to Covid-19. We absolutely must give our kids the best possible chance of making healthy choices.”