The UK Government has provided funding of £14m for the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in order to prepare for Brexit and expand the operations of the National Food Crime Unit (NFCU).

The funding will supplement the FSA’s budget of £84m for 2018/2019. The FSA submitted a request to HM Treasury in order to assist with EU withdrawal activities, and to fund phase two of the NFCU, which will support investigative capabilities linked to potential risks posed by Brexit.

An FSA spokesperson told Food Processing Technology: “The additional funding for the NFCU is subject to approval of a business case to the Treasury. Preparing for EU Exit is a key priority for the FSA. Our planning will ensure that, from the day we leave the EU, we will have the necessary resources to maintain protection for UK consumers from food risks and food crime.”

The FSA aims to initiate phase two of the NFCU by 1 April 2019.

FSA chair Heather Hancock reiterated, saying: “The FSA is already working hard to ensure that the high standard of food safety and consumer protection we enjoy in this country is maintained when the UK leaves the European Union. This additional funding will help us deliver this key priority for the FSA.”

Hancock commented that risk assessments and oversight were essential for food safety operations to ensure that domestically-produced food and imported products are safe, despite their origin.

“We estimate that more than 90% of food law in the UK comes from Europe, so we have a challenging task ahead to ensure we are ready. Robust controls need to be maintained, as do the food safety functions currently undertaken in the EU,” she added.

Last month, head of food crime Andy Morling presented a paper to the FSA outlining the advancements in intelligence sharing of ‘high level data’ between the food industry and the NFCU and making use of the Food Industry Intelligence Network’s ‘safe haven’ to collect, analyse and disseminate food industry intelligence and information on food fraud.