Councils encouraged to establish ‘food resilience teams’ ahead of Brexit

No-deal Brexit ‘catastrophic’ for UK food and farming, unions warn
Credit: Andrey_Kuzmin

An advance notice penned by food policy experts is advising local authorities in the UK to set up “food resilience teams” to prepare for Brexit.

The document – from specialists at City, University of London, University of Sussex and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) – has been sent to every council in the United Kingdom.

It suggests authorities should consider creating the food resilience teams to make risk assessments of how different outcomes of Brexit might affect food provision and supply in their local areas.

The briefing, which is the latest in the Food Brexit Briefing series from the Food Research Collaboration, advises that councils will have a role to play as the local voice and ears to help limit the risk of social disorder, which has been brought on by food supply problems in the past.

There is wide agreement within local authorities that some level of preparation for food supply after Brexit is both possible and sensible, according to the document.

The notice advised that teams clarify the limits to stockpiling; map existing food systems in their region and conduct rapid assessment of where risk and potential disruptions lie, among other things.

The notice also highlights local authorities’ responsibility for the enforcement of food safety and standards regulation, with a scope ranging from school meals to imported and exported products.

However, it says the Government’s guidance notes for a no-deal Brexit are “welcome but inadequate” and warns that local authorities have not been given enough advice.

According to the notice, every form of Brexit will affect the food system in some way, particularly a no-deal scenario.

Several food risks are highlighted, including: price changes, reduced food availability, lower standards and safety, supply disruption, border delays, freight logistics and public disorder.

The food resilience teams should combine expertise from both within the authority and other experts, including NHS-based nutritionists and dietitians, and representatives from commercial bodies and chambers of commerce with knowledge of local food infrastructure, the notice recommends.