UK delays post-Brexit border checks on certain foods, beverages to aid COVID-19 pandemic recovery

UK – A number of foods and beverages from the European Union will be exempted from border checks in the latest efforts by the UK government to assist its food and beverage sector to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food Ingredients First reported that health certificates on imports such as meat and milk will be pushed back from next month to October to ensure smooth cross-border movement as the country acclimatizes to a new post-Brexit normal.

“Physical checks have the potential to be among the most troublesome and cause the most delays if systems are run badly,” Tom Holder, press and communications lead at the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said.

“This easement only applies to F&B, as they are the only ones to require sanitary and phytosanitary checks, veterinary checks, and export health certificates, among others.”

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Additionally, in-person inspections on animal products due in July have also been pushed back to January 2022.

This move comes on the heels of a recent national budget announcement, which highlighted the extension of Britain’s furlough scheme and issuing a “super deduction” of 130 percent on investment taxes.

Commenting on the development, Ian Wright, chief executive of the UK Food and Drink Federation said, “Government must now use this time to do everything it can to support UK food and drink exporters who continue to face huge difficulties moving goods into the EU.”

“They must work constructively with the EU to address barriers to trade by improving the implementation of the trade agreement and streamlining processes,” Wright added.

The announcement comes as a relief particularly to the meat industry which has suffered major losses since the implementation of full checks at the border between the UK and EU.

Seafood is an area which has been impacted badly by the new system with reports indicating that some exporters have not had the correct paperwork causing delays on both sides of the English Channel.

Many say that perishable meat products destined for the EU were delayed so much at the border that rotten consignments had to be thrown away.

 “We are pleased that the government has listened to us and postponed border checks until the systems and border posts are ready. With many of the key Border Control Posts currently little more than a hole in the ground, the six month easement comes in the nick of time,” says Andrew Opie, director of food & sustainability at the BRC.

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The director of food and sustainability at the BRC further advised that the UK Government must not rest on its laurels, and “the next six months must be used to establish and communicate the new systems with UK retailers and EU suppliers.”

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