Pies made in Britain will be banned from export to the EU if their ingredients do not come from an “approved” farm or factory, trade experts have warned MPs.
A new Brussels food safety regulation – to come into force in March next year – is alarming companies that fear Brexit will impose further barriers to sales, an inquiry heard.
The change will mean any ingredient of animal origin – including meat, milk and eggs – “must come from EU-approved establishments”, MPs were told.
Emily Rees, of the analysts Trade Strategies, agreed with a Conservative former trade minister who raised the threat to the exports of “chicken, ham and mushroom pies”, or fish pies, that fell foul of the rule.
“That fish pie can be consumed within Great Britain but will not be able to be sent into Northern Ireland, or exported into the EU, because you will not have the origin certificate necessary,” she said.
Ms Rees said the problem could easily arise because the UK had recently approved agricultural ingredients from premises in Turkey – which might not be on the EU approved list.
Mark Garnier, a Tory trade minister, raised the alarm over the “chicken, ham and mushroom pie problem”, warning: “It could be how you make the pastry, or the ham.”
The end of a transition period for tightening rules on “composite products” was “concerning many companies right now that export to the EU”.
The inquiry, by the Commons International Trade Committee, heard suggestions that UK exporters might resort to two different production lines – to satisfy EU rules and laxer requirements for other markets.
The practice is followed by Australian farmers, to separate beef for EU export – which must be hormone-free – from sales to other countries without a ban.
Shanker Singham, of the trade consultancy Competere and a former government adviser, said a weakness in the Brexit trade deal was an absence of “mutual recognition”.
He agreed that meant manufacturers not only had to use EU-approved parts but also go through the burden of proving they passed the test.
Mr Singham warned the committee that there was little chance of progress until the UK and EU had settled their long-running dispute over the Northern Ireland protocol.
Exporters have already protested at huge new costs and barriers since the trade deal came into force last January, swiping £17bn from EU trade in just three months.
The economic damage from leaving the EU became clearer when the Office for Budget Responsibility said GDP would fall by 4 per cent, taking £80bn out of the UK economy each year.
Ministers were also forced to concede that Brexit was a key cause behind the autumn food and fuel shortages – which have put Christmas deliveries at risk.