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Ministers are under pressure to start using Brexit powers to check meat coming in from the EU amid concerns that Britain is now exposed to serious diseases from the continent.
Dover Tory MP Natalie Elphicke, a Brexiteer, issued a severe warning in Parliament today pointing out that “diseases like African Swine Fever which have steadily spread from Eastern Europe to Germany and now France.”
She demanded that a new state of the art facility in hert constituency meant to check meat imports which has been mothballed is opened up to start checking products coming from the EU.
Ms Elphicke warned that “rancid meat” from the EU is getting into the British market unchecked and poses a serious risk to health and the farming community.
She said: “The NFU have said that ‘a breakdown in biosecurity is one of the most serious risks we face as a nation.’ I agree with that.”
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She added: “Concerns have been raised with me by Kent based import-export businesses, national food and drink trade bodies, the British Poultry Council, the NFU and Dover Port Health Authority.
“It is now some 18 months since Dover’s ready to go taxpayer funded new state of the art post-Brexit facilities were mothballed awaiting the publication of the proposed Target Operating Model for the border.
“At that time it was expected in weeks. In the end it was published on 29th August 2023 and by written ministerial statement to Parliament some two weeks ago.”
Ms Elphicke added: “Dover has the expertise needed to secure our borders, they aren’t being supported as they should be. Dover needs to be backed in this vital role in keeping our country’s food and farming safe.
“Government action is needed now to ensure we are properly protected from dangerous food and diseases coming into the UK.”
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Food minister Mark Spencer said that the delauy over checks had come about because of the consultation needed.
The Department for he Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had received over 200 written responses through our online portal, and had over 650 detailed responses at focused sessions with food retailers, producers, the logistics sector and many others
He said: “The new controls will be introduced as follows: on 31 January 2024, health certification will be introduced for imports of medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products, and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU.
“On 31 January, we are introducing health certification on imports of medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products, and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU.
“On 30 April 2024, we will introduce the documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks on medium-risk animal products, plants, plant products, and high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin from the EU.
“We will also begin to simplify imports from non-EU countries.
“On 31 October 2024, the requirement for safety and security declarations for imports into Great Britain from the EU or from other territories will come into force.
“Alongside that, we will introduce a reduced dataset for imports, and use of the UK single trade window will remove duplication.”
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