March 11, 2019

UK risks bringing in eggs produced with lower welfare standards due to no-deal Brexit


If the UK fails to secure a deal in the weeks leading to Brexit, its consumer market could see the return of billions of eggs that are produced with lower animal welfare standards, the local egg industry warned.


Such eggs originate from hens that are kept in battery cages and usually come from non-EU countries like the US, Ukraine, India and Argentina which have lower animal welfare standards compared to the EU.

In light of the risk that these products could enter the UK, the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) and the welfare group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) have jointly seek assurances from ministers that consumers will be protected and not be exposed to non-EU eggs or egg product imports, The Guardian reported.

Both organisations are also concerned over the government's refusal to confirm tariffs that would be slapped on the import of eggs and egg products from outside the UK. Without tariffs, the UK market could more easily get eggs that come from birds produced in cages -  a practice that was banned in the country in 2012.

Peter Stevenson, the chief policy adviser at CIWF, supported the imposing of tariffs in the event of  a no-deal Brexit, expressing fear that imported eggs could undermine UK farmers.

"If the government fails to protect UK farmers from cheap, low-welfare imports, it will be impossible for it to honour its commitment to using Brexit to achieve gold-standard levels of animal welfare," Stevenson added.

"It would be a national disgrace if the government were to remove tariffs to allow eggs into this country which do not meet even the most basic of welfare standards,"  said Andrew Joret, the chair of the BEIC. "It is seven years since we banned barren battery cages in the UK and consumers would justifiably feel betrayed if this were to happen."

Joret also questioned the food safety record of many egg-producing countries. According to the official, the BEIC has "a global list of issues associated with eggs from other countries."

Joret further claimed that there are several issues that could impact consumer safety, including the risk of salmonella and fipronil.

- The Guardian

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