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Councils urged to ramp up contingency planning to avert food disruption in any version of Brexit

Local authorities in the UK must strengthen planning for possible disruption due to Brexit, say the Food Research Collaboration

by City Press Office (General enquiries)

Local authorities (LAs) in the UK need to bolster their planning for Brexit disruption and prepare for the role of communicating food information to the public, according to new advice written by food policy experts.

The document, published as part of the Food Research Collaboration’s (FRC) Food Brexit Briefing series, urges council executives to draw on the local food expertise that exists within local authorities to strengthen contingency planning and communication capacity.

It refers to the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act, which calls for the formation of local Resilience Forums to deal with risks, and also calls for clear communication with the public at times of disruption.

Gary McFarlane, Northern Ireland Director of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), commented:

“We know that many LAs have engaged in emergency planning for Brexit. However, in some cases it appears that this planning has not included any consideration of food supplies. We believe this is an omission. We would urge all LAs to include food in their Brexit preparations, and in so doing utilise the local food supply knowledge that exists among Environmental Health, Trading Standards and other public officials.”

The briefing also highlights the need to maintain pressure on Government to provide better information about food supply risks.

Professor Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy in City, University of London's Centre for Food Policy, said:

“The current political ‘calm’ over Brexit should not lead to a lapse in preparations. But it does provide local authorities with an opportunity for intelligence-sharing and planning, without the distraction of Westminster upheavals or even panic.”

Professor Tim Lang speaking at a conference at City, University of London

The briefing, written by food policy experts at City, University of London, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the University of Sussex and Cardiff University, updates advice that was published in November 2018 and sent to every council in the United Kingdom urging them to set up food resilience teams to risk assess how different Brexit outcomes might affect the food supply in their local area.

For the full set of new recommendations read the briefing.

About the FRC

The Food Research Collaboration is a UK initiative that brings together academics and civil society organisations to improve the production, sharing and use of evidence-based knowledge to influence and improve UK food policy. It has 600 members and is based at the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London. This is the sixth of its Food Brexit Briefings.

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