UK – Food policy experts have written to local authorities to set up ‘food resilience teams’ to ensure safe, adequate and sustainable food supply in preparation for Brexit.
The document, written by specialists from City, University of London,University of Sussex and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has been sent to every council in the United Kingdom.
It is seeking the guidance of local authorities pending the outcome of the Parliamentary vote on the Draft Withdrawal Agreement, something that is likely to affect not only the economy but also the food supply system.
The experts suggest creation of food resilience teams to make risk assessments of how different outcomes of Brexit might affect food provision and supply in their local areas.
“Setting up food resilience teams is something practical local authorities can do. These should map local food system risks and help set public protection priorities,” said Professor Tim Lang, of the Centre for Food Policy at City.
The briefing aims to help prepare for Food Brexit, highlighting the role played by local authorities in enforcement of food safety and standards regulation.
While having the control over imported food at ports and airports and the certification of foods for export, they also have unique knowledge of relevant local professionals, institutions, businesses and networks.
The advice notice suggests food resilience teams should map existing food systems in their regions, conduct rapid assessments of where risks and potential disruptions lie and clarify the limits to stockpiling.
To help limit the option of social disorder in the supply chain, the council is advised to bring together relevant professionals and expertise and carry the information to the government and the public.
It further states that that though the government’s no-deal Brexit was welcome, it was inadequate to sustain the food system.
Several food risks highlighted include price changes, reduced food availability, lower standards and safety, supply disruption, border delays, freight logistics and public disorder.
Gary McFarlane, Northern Ireland Director of the CIEH, said: “Whatever the outcomes of political negotiations significant change is on the horizon.
Local authorities will be key facilitators for both business and local communities and this document seeks to provide practical ideas that assist in that role.”
Even days to Brexit approach, there has been concerns on how the government is planning to tackle the food security issue in Britain.
Such efforts seek to address the threat a careless Brexit poses to the UK’s short-term food security and any long-term attempt to develop a genuinely sustainable food strategy for the whole of the UK.