Post-Brexit port delays are public health risk, warns CIEH

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The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has warned of the public health risks associated with post-Brexit port delays, should there be no transitional agreement between the UK and EU.

Responding to a warning from Maritime UK that there could be permanent traffic jams around Dover, the CIEH has called on the government to clarify its position on ports and borders post-Brexit.

CIEH head of policy Tony Lewis said: “In the absence of a transition period, and subsequent trade agreement, that maintains these [existing]arrangements there is serious concern that massive tailbacks and delays will appear on the first day post-Brexit. Even doubling the inspection time to four minutes will generate substantial gridlock.

“The reality, however, is that imported food checks and sampling to ensure that incoming food meets our standards will take much longer than a few minutes and could take days if the results of laboratory sampling is awaited. Over and above tailbacks at the ports, this will mean that the fresh food industry that currently operates on a ‘just in time’ basis may well see food rotting on the quay and shortages in the shops.

“It is essential that the government provides clarity on this issue at the earliest possible time to allow for the industry and port health services to enact appropriate measures and for public health to be protected.”

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