meat pigs abattoir

Brexit could mean a dramatic overhaul of British meat inspection, with regulators poised to use the UK’s exit from the EU to rethink the entire regulatory regime, The Grocer understands.

In a paper published ahead of its board meeting next week, the FSA admitted to “uncertainty over the future shape of official controls following Britain’s exit from the EU” and hinted there could be a “radical rethink” of meat inspection rules post-Brexit.

The UK food watchdog proposed putting its work on passing the cost of meat inspection back to industry on hold, noting that regulatory changes might drive down costs, making it easier to come to a future agreement.

Post-Brexit regulatory changes could include a move towards official controls that are more focused on microbiological risks than “outdated” visual inspections, industry sources said.

With the “whole regulatory framework” set to be reconsidered, more self-regulation and privatised inspection might also be on the table.

A spokeswoman confirmed the FSA would be considering the impact “the UK’s exit from the EU” might have on its ongoing work to modernise official controls in the meat sector and deliver “more tailored and proportionate regulations that reflect relative risk, reinforce accountability, and deliver more for ­public health”.

British Poultry Council CEO Richard Griffiths said Brexit was “a golden opportunity” to “fundamentally examine” what official controls should be and how they should be applied.

“European legislation has for years held back the application of a risk-based system guided by developments in science and technology,” he added. “We do not want to change the outcomes of delivering safe British food for consumers, but we have to achieve that in the most efficacious manner possible.”