Brexit means Hull's ports will need more staff checking food imports
Hull and Goole chief port health inspector Laurence Dettman
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 15 Jun 2017
Brexit could put more pressure on ports at Hull and Goole because of the increased checks needed on food imports.
The chief port health inspector for Hull and Goole says more staff could be needed to check food imports into the UK after the UK leaves the EU.
Around 3.7 million tonnes of food products are imported through the Humber ports every year. That equates to 11 per cent of the UK's total imported food and drink. Most food imports being shipped into the estuary comes from the European Union.
At the moment, EU legislation allows the free movement of imported food consignment between member states.
But with the UK set to leave the EU, new entry controls similar to those currently applied to non-EU food imports could form part of any final Brexit deal.
Laurence Dettman, chief port health inspector for Hull and Goole, said such a move would require a significant increase in staff to cope.
He said: "Before the UK entered the EU, all foodstuffs entering the UK through our ports were subject to our controls under various UK imported food regulations which required a much larger port health presence to prevent the import of unsound or unfit products.
"However, over the last 40 years inside the EU our resources have dramatically reduced, mainly because of the free circulation issue.
"If we are going to turn the clocks back 40 years ands revert back to a pre-EU regime requiring checks and inspections of a vastly increased number of imported food consignments, including food of EU origin, we are going to need more staff to carry out that work."
The Hull and Goole Port Health Authority currently employs just four health inspectors and one technical officer. Mr Dettman estimated that number would need to least double if control checks on EU food imports were revived.
He has written to the region's MPs and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs over concerns raised over the issue by port authority members.
"We are all waiting to see what comes out of the Brexit negotiations.
"At this stage, no-one knows what will happen but the implications of the authority are potentially very large."
EU food imports currently handled in Hull include frozen and chilled meat and fish as well as fresh and dried fruit. The port also handles significant quantities of non-EU sugar and palm oil used by the food processing sector.