Liz Truss and George Eustice have written a letter to all MPs, which they have shared online, insisting they will ensure any food imports meet the same standards as food produced in the UK, as tensions have continued to rise over the possibility of tariffs being lifted on cheap meat and eggs from the US as part of a post-Brexit trade deal.
Truss, secretary of state at the Department of International Trade, which is overseeing negotiations with the US on a free trade agreement, and Eustice, secretary of state at Defra, wrote the letter after being inundated with questions from MPs whose constituents had contacted them.
A petition led by the NFU on the topic has so far attracted over 750,000 signatures and has been supported by Jamie Oliver, who shared his fears on his social media channels of the possible loss of British farms and food businesses forced out of business by cheaper imports that would be illegal to produce in the UK.
In the past week, new reports emerged that the UK was planning to acquiesce to US demands that agricultural products be part of any FTA.
The letter, published on Friday 5 June, states that the Conservative Party’s manifesto is clear: “We will not compromise on our high environmental protection, food safety and animal welfare standards. We remain firmly committed to upholding our high environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards outside the EU and the EU Withdrawal Act will transfer all existing EU food safety provisions, including existing import requirements onto the UK statute books.
“These import standards include a ban on artificial growth hormones in domestic and imported products and set out that no products, other than potable water, are approved to decontaminate poultry carcases. Any change to existing food safety legislation would require new legislation to be brought before Parliament.”