Councils Fear Food Supply Disruption in Event of No-Deal Brexit

21 Aug 2019

Local councils are preparing for the possibility of school meal nutritional standards being amended or discarded altogether in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the BBC has revealed.

These legal standards are designed to make sure school children are fed healthy food.


It is anticipated by some councils that school meals will not meet nutritional standards due of a rise in food prices and restriction of choice anticipated after a no-deal Brexit, particularly on fresh imports from Europe.

North Ayrshire Council has said it "might need to amend school nutrition standard,” in its internal Brexit planning document.


Local councils are legally obliged to provide food of a high standard to vulnerable users of public services and manage the food supply challenges of leaving the EU without a deal.


Other councils, such as North Tyneside, report that "special dietary requirements may be difficult to meet" and that "if fresh produce is difficult to come by" schools should "increase use of tins and frozen goods".


Many councils say that prices for school meals will rise and UK Government funding for free school meals will have to increase.


Some also mention the possible use of food banks and some Scottish councils have already increased funding to provide additional support for food banks.


The UK Tory Government has said that school food standards must continue to be adhered to post Brexit, claiming bizarrely that schools have: 


"Significant flexibilities, which they can refer to if certain items are in short supply.”

The BBC also revealed that Hastings Council's internal Brexit risk document even goes as far as saying: 


"There might be the need for rationing. The severity would depend on what was available and particularly the duration of any shortages.”


Most documents looked at by the BBC take at face value the UK Government’s national assessment for March that there will be no impact of a no-deal Brexit on overall food supply, but there could be an impact on price and choice.


A 31 October no-deal Brexit would come at a time when the UK is particularly dependent on European imports for its fresh food and when there is little to no excess warehousing space, unlike in March, for example. Andy Jones, chair of the Public Sector 100 Group of caterers, said:


"Given a no-deal Brexit, councils are being very sensible and very cautious. Rightly so, as we're going into the unknown.


"If a no-deal Brexit happens, I feel that the supply chain will absolutely be under pressure. And that will affect the most vulnerable in society."

Bidfood, a key suppliers to schools, hospitals, care homes and prisons, said it was now preparing for no-deal, having bought up warehouse space and assessed and identified alternatives for 400 key food imports to store.


Chief Executive Andrew Selley said:


"The areas that we're looking at in terms of making sure we have surety of supply is around those key things that we import, like pasta, tuna, tinned tomatoes, olive oil, chips, french fries, rice. These are not exotic commodities, these are staples of everyday life, and we want to make sure that all of our customers can get those." 

This comes as the chance of a no-deal Brexit seems more likely than ever. 

Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:

 


"The Prime Minister has appointed a hard-line Brexiteer Cabinet and is gearing up to crash us out of the EU with no deal.

“People living in Scotland are rightly worried. It is becoming increasingly clear why Scotland’s interests simply cannot be protected by Westminster and that Scotland must have the choice to choose a better future with independence.

 

“Meanwhile, a no-deal Brexit must be taken off the table, if we are to avoid economic dislocation and potentially serious consequences for some of the most vulnerable in our society.”

 

ENDS

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