A new domestic food regulator will need to be up and running on ‘day one’ after Brexit to stop countries from blocking British exports, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
Heather Hancock, chair of the FSA, made the remarks during a Westminster Food and Nutrition Forum event in London last week.
She said: “We need to deliver an equivalent regulatory regime; one we can prove to the public and industry and in the face of international scrutiny is competent.
“This whole regulatory model has to be in place from day one, regardless of the nature of any transition arrangement with the EU or decisions about the future trading arrangement between the UK and the EU.
“Countries importing food from the UK will demand assurance we have got a complete regulatory regime in place which offers the same level of protection to their consumers.
“There is a likelihood countries and companies will seek a competitive advantage in relation to trade in food. The ability to challenge and question our regulatory regime will be part of the way they see competitive advantage.”
Ms Hancock also said the new regulator would need to be in place on day one in case ‘something goes wrong’ in the food chain.
“We need a full competence available to act in the event of there being an issue”, she added.
“We cannot start in the middle of the equivalent of the fipronil food scare saying ‘actually, there is a little bit of a flaw in the powers, and someone is not in the right position to act, or get access to information or evidence we need.’”
At its most basic, Ms Hancock said the new regulator would need to have six capabilities:
The FSA has already received £14 million from the Treasury this year to support its EU exit planning – the full amount it requested.