How Brexit added layers of red tape to meat exports | Politics


Before Brexit, it was just as easy to send a shipment of meat to Bavaria as it was to Birmingham, but since Britain left the EU, trading with the mainland requires a lot more paperwork, costs and effort. Products of animal origin, such as meat, have a particularly high number of controls and documents.

Prior to January 1, UK-based meat exporters only needed to obtain a consignment note (CMR) and delivery note before their goods could be loaded onto a truck and transported across the English Channel. .

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Guardian analysis of data from the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reveals that shipping an identical shipment to the mainland now results in a 26-stage process for the meat to be exported from Britain to the United Kingdom. EU.

Certifying officers, usually veterinarians, must verify each shipment prior to departure. Merchants must enter details into at least five databases, while obtaining multiple certificates, reference numbers, documents, and permits, all of which result in a large amount of paperwork.

This could explain why meat exports to the EU collapsed by as much as 92% in January compared to the previous year, according to analysis of the HMRC figures by the Food and Drink Federation.

The following is an example of all the possible steps an exporter faces to ensure that a consignment of meat from Great Britain reaches an EU customer. It includes a physical inspection of the goods by French customs, which is currently carried out for approximately one in five loads. If the cargo is rejected, the delivery may be delayed and, in the worst case, the merchandise is re-exported or even destroyed.

Even after the merchant has completed all the steps necessary to export their meat, a smooth passage is not guaranteed.



A sample EXP form that must be completed in triplicate for each shipment. Photograph: British Association of Meat Processors

As sausage maker Helen Browning’s Organics discovered during its two attempts to move meat from Britain to its EU manufacturing facility since January, any paperwork errors, missing information, or sheer bad luck can cause shipments to be delayed for several days in French customs. Delays are not only costly for businesses, but can result in a much shorter shelf life for perishable items, making merchants unpopular with their retail customers or even empty supermarket shelves.

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