Cold Chain Federation urges Government to stall Brexit checks

Posted: 15 April 2024 | | No comments yet

The Chief Executive of the Cold Chain Federation has called on the Defra Secretary to delay the implementation of BTOM until October 2024 to address “serious issues”.

Brexit checks

In a letter written to Steve Barclay, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Cold Chain Federation (CCF) has urged Defra to postpone full implementation of the Border Target Operating Model (BTOM) to allow time to address “serious issues in consultation with the food logistics industry”.

Activation of the BTOM had previously been delayed five times, but it eventually came into force on 31 January 2024. However, full implementation of the Brexit checks are set to take place on 30 April 2024.

From the end of April, in order to import live animals or animal products from non-EU countries into Great Britain, companies will need to find the BTOM risk category for the commodity they’re importing as well as follow the sanitary and phytosanitary rules for that import risk category.

New Food has previously reported on industry concerns regarding the implementation of the BTOM. In an article written for New Food in February, Sir Robert Goodwill, Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA), shared that the EFRA Committee had written to Barclay to raise its concerns “over what we believe are real and serious threats to our domestic biosecurity.

Brexit’s roadblocks to “frictionless trade”

“Our committee remains supportive of the BTOM, but we have concerns about its operation in practice. We wrote to the Environment Secretary on two specific areas of concern; cuts to the funding for spot checks for products of animal origin at the Port of Dover, and the location of the new facility for physical checks on products entering at Dover, which will be at Sevington, twenty-two miles away from the point of entry at Dover,” continued Sir Goodwill.

However, now the Chief Executive of the CCF Phil Pluck has also raised his own concerns regarding the full implementation of the BTOM, stating that “even before its full implementation, it’s becoming evident that BTOM is a broken model”. The Federation has also highlighted concerns regarding the impact implementation will have on food prices and consumer choice.

Sharing their stance on action they believe needs to be taken by Government, the Federation has urged Defra to postpone full implementation until October 2024 and use the time to speak to the sector regarding the “anticipated impacts of BTOM”. According to CCF, these include “uncertain costs and delays for businesses in the food supply chain as a result of the recently introduced Common User Charges. In addition, the letter raises questions regarding the “readiness of Border Control Post (BCP) facilities due to staffing shortages and unfinished infrastructure”.

Speaking on his concerns about the full implementation set to take place on 30 April, Pluck stated: “Even before its full implementation, it’s becoming evident that BTOM is a broken model; the CCF and its members will help the Government get this right.

“Without listening to the experts, the Government will seriously damage business confidence in the UK and add costs to consumers’ weekly shop. Temperature-controlled logistics operators are working hard to adapt to BTOM but we need better collaboration with Government and EU partners to ensure a smooth transition that safeguards food safety, minimises disruption, and protects consumer interests,” continued Pluck.

Going further, the Federation also highlighted its concerns regarding “the disruption of impractical 24-hour pre-notification requirements for the ‘groupage’ model, something it defines as “crucial for many small producers and retailers”.

New Food will keep its readers updated with any further developments.

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