Post-Brexit Food Checks Will Be ‘Light-Touch,’ UK Minister Says

(Bloomberg) -- The UK will enforce “light-touch” post-Brexit checks on food and plant products beginning later this month to avoid disrupting businesses trading with European Union nations, a government minister said.

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“We’re trying to cut down the amount of red tape and bureaucracy and so we’re continually trying to make sure we have a light touch,” UK Exports Minister Malcolm Offord told Bloomberg’s UK politics podcast on Tuesday. “This is why it’s been revised for the benefit of our companies.”

The physical checks on medium- to high-risk foods from the EU, including cheese, fish and meat, are due to be introduced at the end of the month after several delays and more than four years after the UK departed the bloc. EU food imports will incur fees as high as £145 ($180) starting April 30, and vets will begin carrying out spot checks on produce.

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Asked about the new checks, Offord said the Department for Business and Trade is “trying to avoid putting hurdles in front of business.”

Industry groups and companies have warned the new checks may cause shortages in some areas and increase the cost of food to consumers. Last month, the Cold Chain Federation, a trade body representing companies in the supply chain, warned that many small artisan suppliers on the continent would stop exporting to the UK altogether as a result of the extra bureaucracy. The government’s own modeling suggests the new checks will cause food prices to rise by just 0.2% over three years.

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