Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Food Labelling

The Prime Minister's speech to the Tory Party Conference was, like Grace Brothers, pretty terrifying on all levels. Having stayed quietly in the background during the EU referendum campaign she is now leading a party of her own making which I think can only be called Conservative Lemmings. As one commentator said, having jettisoned the methodology of Norway and Canada our closest model for existing in the free world will be North Korea.

Economists will tell us what this all means as long as there are some still around who haven't been attracted by the bright lights of retraining as trade negotiators.

So let us talk about something I have a vague familiarity with - food labelling. Living with two vegetarians, one pretty strict about avoiding meat in any form, I have become familiar with searching through the small print on food labels. The EU recognised food-labelling system at least means that the symbol/information for which I search is readily identifiable on all products.

If we go back to deciding how to label our own food then I'm sure we will still have to use this format to export to the EU.

What are the choices?

1. Claim we have taken back control of our food but do absolutely nothing to change and continue to live in a world where food safety standards are shared. May well happen.

2. Have higher standards than the rest of the world. Great to be an example, but if we simply make it harder for people to sell to us then we should not expect great trade deals when the roles are reversed. File under unlikely.

3. Have lower standards than the rest of the world. Then end up importing a load of dodgy food that can't be shifted in the other nation's home market. At home, unscrupulous food producers will no longer have to add the awkward 'may contain horse' to their beef mince label. Hope not.

4. Quietly withdraw this ridiculous promise on a fast news day. Very possible.

We always had the right to label our own food. We chose to do it in co-operation with other countries to make the EU a better place not just formerly-great Britain.

If Brexit means brexit then it does exactly what it says on the tin. Always read the label.

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