Keeping food safe after Brexit is a high public priority as found by a survey in early 2018, which found that 82% of the public wish to maintain current food safety standards. Microbiological science plays a vital role in identifying, understanding and preventing food safety threats as they emerge. In July 2018, the Society for Applied Microbiology held a roundtable discussion on the potential impacts of departing the European Union on food safety in the UK, focusing on issues related to science. Key points and recommendations from the discussion are listed below:
- New trade deals may leave the UK exposed to new food safety threats from imports, including drug-resistant microbes.
- Food exports from the UK may need to meet different safety requirements, incurring costs on British food producers.
- The UK Government must seek continued involvement in European food safety surveillance systems and knowledge sharing networks after Brexit.
- The EU is a key source of funding for food safety research. Steps should be taken to mitigate potential funding losses once the UK leaves the EU.
- Future government support for the safety of our food should also focus on UK National Reference Laboratories and gaps in the domestic skills base.
A full report of the roundtable meeting may be accessed here.