By Mark Williams, chief executive, British Egg Industry Council
After the slap in the face from government by their decision to remove import tariffs on eggs and egg products in the event of a no deal Brexit, we met with the officials whose advice was made to the minister.
Whilst this was perhaps inevitable in the short term in an attempt to keep food price inflation in check, it sent totally the wrong signal to our industry, particularly on animal welfare matters. The problem is that government has conflicting priorities going forward; either open our markets via free trade agreements with third countries, where they are lower standards of animal welfare and environmental protection, or to look to maintain our high standards. At our meeting we made it clear that government missed an opportunity to send a clear signal to non-EU countries that if you want to export to the UK, then you must comply with our standards – nothing less.
“If it’s not broke don’t fix it,” is a phrase we do not apply to the Lion Code. Since its creation 21 years ago, the code has continued to evolve to meet the ever-changing expected food safety and hygiene standards expected by our customers and consumers.
We have used the Lion scheme as a means of separating ourselves from the legislative base and at the same time ensuring the scheme is the standard bearer worldwide for food safety in eggs. The evolution over time has been supported by retailers, many food service companies and food manufacturers.
The evolution of the industry’s assurance scheme is continuing. In recent times we have added elements focussing on disease prevention, in particular further raising the biosecurity bar to protect against a Notifiable Avian Disease. With other threats on the horizon we must use the Lion to ensure we maintain our number one spot. Both animal welfare and environmental protection will become of greater importance going forwards.