Chairman of the Food Standards Agency Sir John Krebs has warned that welcoming new European Union members could lower food standards across the EU.

Sir John warned delegates at the annual City Food Lecture that European enlargement would bring consumer benefits, but also possible new risks.

“There are food-processing plants in new member states that do not meet EU standards, and they will have to be upgraded or closed,” Sir John said. “But upgrading will take time and meanwhile compliant and non-compliant products will have to be segregated.”

He pointed out that this would create opportunities for “fraud and accidental mixing”, which in turn could erode consumer trust.

On a more positive note Sir John commented on the “high standards of food safety in the UK” and said most people have become less concerned about food safety than they were three years ago.

He partly attributed this to the FSA’s efforts to provide clear advice to consumers without disguising uncertainties.

“I think it leads to a two-way trust,” said Krebs. “We trust you to make your own choices and you trust us to tell it straight.”