/ Food & Drink

What’s next for our food standards?

Our research has shown time and time again how strongly people across the UK feel about upholding our food standards. Here’s a recap of the progress we’ve made.

With the strength of public feeling towards protecting our food standards in mind, we launched our Save Our Food Standards campaign due to concerns that future food standards could be weakened and compromised by trade deals.

Our focus was ensuring the Agriculture Bill firmed up Government commitments to maintain UK food standards in the future.

As a reminder, Which? and many other organisations were concerned how easily UK food standards could be changed, with very little scrutiny, in light of a trade deal which diminished standards. 

Thousands of you joined the campaign and added your voice to why this issue was important to you – contacting your MPs, sharing your messages for the government and signing our petition – putting the consumer voice front and centre of the debate. 

The Bill has now been completed so we wanted to update you on the outcome and the progress made. 

Improvements to the Bill

To start with, the Bill was changed, but not as extensively as we had hoped. While the House of Lords did amend the Bill to add an explicit section around upholding food standards, this was sadly defeated in the House of Commons. 

However, we did see some improvement. Firstly, the government amended the Bill to ensure that in the future there would be more scrutiny of trade deals in respect to human, animal or plant life or health, animal welfare and the environment. 

Secondly, in response to our joint letter with 56 parliamentarians from across the political spectrum, the government provided further detail of their commitments to uphold food standards, helping to answer outstanding questions.

Finally, the government agreed to put the Trade and Agriculture Commission on a more permanent and statutory footing – to be reviewed every three years, rather than ending in February.

The Commission was set up initially for six months to inform top-level trade policy and negotiations. Moving forward, it will produce a report on the impact on animal welfare and agriculture of each free trade deal the government signs. 

This is good progress, and we couldn’t have done it without your support, so thank you!

What’s next for our work on food standards?

While the Agriculture Bill and this phase of our campaign is concluded, we’ll continue to ensure – as part of our wider trade work – to ensure commitments to uphold UK food standards are kept to.

We will also be working hard to ensure that consumer expertise is represented on the Trade and Agriculture Commission, and that the Commission robustly scurintises food standards in the public interest as part of its work. 

Overall, it’s vital trade deals deliver for consumers – be it on food, digital issues, product safety and many more areas – we’ll be keeping a close eye and ensuring the opportunity is taken to champion consumers. 

Comments

This safety warning was issued by the Food Standards Agency on 22 January. It seems to affect quite a range of seafood. Perhaps it should have been publicised earlier than just now?
https://www.which.co.uk/news/2021/01/food-recall-asda-co-op-sainsburys-and-waitrose-recall-certain-seafood-products/

It is essential that the standards to we, while in Europe, committed to are staunchly upheld in the future

Goldfinch says:
24 August 2021

EU animal welfare standards are considerably lower than in the UK.

Theresa says:
30 January 2021

“We will also be working hard to ensure that consumer expertise is represented on the Trade and Agriculture Commission, and that the Commission robustly scurintises food standards in the public interest as part of its work.” Which?

Thank you.

Individual members of the public must remain vigilant with the Government, with DEFRA, with Which? and NGOs. Why did Which?/some other NGOs not explain in more detail the dangers that lurk within the Trade and Agriculture Commission? Were over 1 million petition signatories misled? One size will not fit all. Food standards (and climate change*) were always going to be a complicated issue…..https://www.gmwatch.org/en/news/latest-news/19672-how-to-respond-to-the-uk-consultation-on-the-deregulation-of-gene-editing

* opinions differ on climate change solutions: https://www.acbio.org.za/en/nature-based-solutions-or-nature-based-seductions

* https://desmog.co.uk/agribusiness-database/NFU-UK

* https://orfc.org.uk/session/genome-editing-assessing-the-threat-to-agroecology/

* https://rethinkingsecurity.org.uk/2020/09/11/5g-and-green-transition/

Exactly what please is going on? The public need urgent answers not fobbing off with misinformation about the TAC membership and their intentions! “Government Appoints Lobbyists with US Agribusiness Ties to Trade and Agriculture Commission.”
https://desmog.co.uk/2020/07/15/government-appoints-lobbyists-us-agribusiness-ties-trade-and-agriculture-commission?

There is very little information here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/trade-and-agriculture-commission-tac
Are Which? able to update please? Consumer representation/level playing field for opposing expert opinions? Thank you.
https://www.sustainweb.org/news/nov20-future-british-standards-coalition_final_report/

Will Which? be backing up Beyond GM, GM Freeze, Gene Watch, The Soil Association and the Landworkers’ Alliance regarding DEFRA’s Gene Editing Consultation?

England
https://www.gmwatch.org/en/news/latest-news/19672-how-to-respond-to-the-uk-consultation-on-the-deregulation-of-gene-editing

EU
https://friendsoftheearth.eu/publication/generation-unknown-exposing-the-truth-behind-the-new-generation-of-gmos/

https://www.testbiotech.org/en/news/why-new-genetic-engineering-needs-be-regulated

Jo Andrew says:
12 September 2021

Food quality: What about fish quality? With the two major sewage spills around the Sussex and Kent coastline, bottom feeding fish such as plaice and other marine life may well be badly contaminated and therefor unsuitable for human consumption. About 15 years ago there was contamination off Dungeness shingle bank. My mother ate plaice in Hastings and had ten days of acute stomach cramps. Another lady also had the same symptoms from eating another flat fish in Rye. Is any department of health testing the present catches from our area. Many tourists descend on our beaches and if forbidden to swim head for the cafes for fish and chips without any knowledge of where they were caught. I now only eat plaice from a cafe that buys from Scotland. Are fishermen being compensated by Southern water? I think part of the massive fine should be diverted to the fishermen, and any others who have been disadvantaged by this travesty. Can we look at how other countries treat their sewage. Perhaps they have better ideas. What about the blue light UVB treatment? This should have been built into treatment systems years ago. (Where is that fine money being paid to – the government?)J