Supermarkets say no to deals with countries with poor animal welfare

Supermarkets warn ministers not to strike Brexit trade deals with countries with poor animal welfare and environmental standards

  • Supermarket bosses said jobs would be at risk if UK flooded with cheap imports
  • They ask No10 to use recommendations of Trade & Agriculture Commission 
  • Ministers have been under pressure to enshrine a ban on chlorinated chicken 

Major supermarkets and food manufacturers have warned Ministers against striking post-Brexit trade deals with countries that have poor animal welfare and environmental standards.

The bosses of Waitrose, Co-op and Iceland, along with food giants Nestle, last night said jobs would be put at risk if new trade pacts allow Britain to be flooded by cheap imports such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef.

They urged the Government to adopt the recommendations of the Trade and Agriculture Commission which warned earlier this month Brexit should not trigger a ‘race to the bottom’ on food standards. Campaigners, including TV chefs Jamie Oliver and Prue Leith, say much more needs to be done to strengthen protection for UK farmers in post-Brexit deals.

Supermarket bosses urged the Government to adopt the recommendations of the Trade and Agriculture Commission which warned earlier this month Brexit should not trigger a ‘race to the bottom’ on food standards

Ministers have been under pressure to enshrine a ban on chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef in law. There are also calls to outlaw crops produced with the use of cancer-causing chemicals.

Now, food industry chiefs have waded in with a letter that says: ‘We strongly support the recommendation of the Trade and Agriculture Commission report that the UK establishes a core set of environmental standards that would apply to both home produced and imported food.’

Also in the letter, coordinated by the conservation charity WWF, they warn that deals which water down food standards ‘undermine both the UK’s environmental regulations and the sustainability of its leading businesses’.

Waitrose executive director James Bailey said: ‘We must ensure that British farmers and growers are able to compete effectively without being undermined by cheap food produced at untenable environmental cost.’

More than a million people last year signed a National Farmers’ Union petition to protect British food standards as part of a campaign backed by The Mail on Sunday.

It led to International Trade Secretary Liz Truss establishing the Trade and Agriculture Commission, led by ex-Tesco boss Tim Smith. The Government has said it will consider its recommendations.

WWF chief executive Tanya Steele said: ‘The food on our plates is destroying our natural world and contributing to climate change, with unsustainable farming practices leading to deforestation, pollution and habitat destruction.

‘We must act now to protect the natural systems we all rely on.’

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