Britain’s top chefs urge ministers to protect ‘quality’ food as they back campaign to keep out inferior foreign imports
- Leading industry figures demand high standards upheld in any post-Brexit deal
- Royal Academy of Culinary Arts has written to Downing Street over the issue
- George Eustice has previously called US animal welfare law ‘woefully deficient’
Leading industry figures including John Williams, executive chef of the Ritz, pictured with Prince Charles in 2004, have sent a letter to Downing Street demanding the high standards of British farming and produce are upheld as part of any post-Brexit deal
Top chefs from the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts have thrown their support behind the campaign to protect Britain’s food standards from inferior foreign imports.
The organisation, which represents 300 of Britain’s best chefs and restaurants, urged Boris Johnson and senior Ministers to ban low-standard imports in trade talks with the US, amid fears that the UK will be flooded with chlorinated chicken and beef pumped full of hormones.
Leading industry figures including John Williams, executive chef of the Ritz, and TV chef Brian Turner have sent a letter to Downing Street demanding that the high standards of British farming and produce are upheld as part of any post-Brexit deal. ‘Our UK farmers and food producer partners work to high environmental and animal welfare standards which this Government boasts are world-leading,’ it says.
‘They should not be forced to compete against cheap imports that would be illegal to produce or sell here but global trading laws will make it difficult, if not impossible, to avoid.’
The academy, whose patron is Prince Charles, said top restaurants are ‘not willing to lower the quality of food they serve’, adding that diners ‘expect that these standards are integral to the meals they enjoy and would not accept any lowering of current rules’.
Ministers say they will not undermine animal welfare, environmental and food standards with low-quality imports as they thrash out a deal with US negotiators, but farmers and environmental campaigners were furious last month when a bid to enshrine the promise into law as part of its new Agriculture Bill was defeated.
Environment Secretary George Eustice has previously called animal welfare law in the US ‘woefully deficient’.
A petition launched by the National Farmers’ Union and backed by The Mail on Sunday to demand that food be produced to world leading standards has attracted more than one million signatures. In America, tens of thousands of cows are housed in dusty outdoor pens and most US states allow pregnant pigs to be housed in metal ‘sow stalls’.
Slaughtered chickens are sometimes washed in chlorine and US cattle farmers can use steroid hormones to speed growth by up to 20 per cent – a practice banned across the EU since 1989.
Environment Secretary George Eustice, pictured at Downing Street last month, has previously called animal welfare law in the US ‘woefully deficient’
The RACA letter says: ‘We are dismayed that the UK Government is close to missing a critical opportunity to uphold our high food ethics in its new Agriculture Bill by not banning low standard imports.
‘This risks exposing us all to poor quality food, produced cheaply by cutting corners in food safety, animal welfare (including unnecessary use of prophylactic antibiotics; hormones etc) and their unsustainable environmental impact.’
Mr Williams said: ‘It is so important to support our British farmers and their fantastic products.
‘The standards and quality of British food is among the best in the world and we must protect that at all costs.’
Mr Turner added: ‘I have been in this business for 55 years and have seen British standards come from absolute rubbish to the best in the world.
‘We can’t throw all of that hard work away.’