New EU legislation is expected to increase the volume of UK export health certificates being completed for goods sold to the EU by a third, making some food products “unviable” as exports.
From 21 April, goods containing either meat, pasteurised milk, or egg-related contents (also known as ‘shelf-stable’ products) from non-EU countries will require vet-stamped certification to be exported to the EU.
The new rules will also apply to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Crisps and chocolate bars
The rule-change will mostly affect cover multi-ingredient products such as chocolate bars and curry sauces.
Some products – such as cheese and onion crisps, which contain cheese powder – will require pages of “attestation” documents detailing the source of the cheese used to flavour the crisps, according to the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
“The added bureaucracy will prove costly to businesses of all sizes,” Ian Wright, FDF chief executive, told the FT.
According to the Chilled Food Association, the new rules will require a 36% increase in health certificates, most of which will impact trade with Ireland worth about £1bn a year.
James Russell, the president of the British Veterinary Association, said there was “a capacity challenge” with not enough vets available to do the work of approving certificates.
“We do have concerns”, he said. “We know already that there are some pinch points as vets are being diverted towards export documentation”.
The Telegraph also reports that electrical goods – including refrigerators, washing machines and TVs – sold in Northern Ireland will need to display an EU flag on their energy efficiency labels rather than the Union Jack.
The EU flag remains because the country must follow Brussels’ energy labelling rules due to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman, said it was an example of how the Protocol was detaching the country from the rest of the UK.
The UK is also looking at its laws with business minister Paul Scully revealing today (11 March) that decades-old laws are going to be reviewed amid concerns consumer product standards don’t sufficiently protect gender and racial discrimination.
A statement from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy said it wanted to “explore how product safety can be improved to reflect the needs of everyone in society”.
The department flagged up examples of how technology might not serve the needs of all – including VR headsets associated with higher levels of motion sickness in women and facial recognition technologies that are less able to recognise certain skin tones.
A call for evidence will run for 12 weeks and a paper produced thereafter.