The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has advised the government to consider the full consequences of importing hormone-treated beef following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

BMPA CEO Nick Allen said that allowing hormone-treated beef into the UK market would increase consumer worries over the safety of products and provide difficulties for UK manufacturers to supply to Europe.

The European Commission has prohibited substances that induce hormonal action for growth in livestock since 1981. The law was repealed and replaced with Directive 2003/74/EC in 2003 to include certain conditions for oestradiol 17ß, pertaining to other non-growth uses on farm animals.

Allen told Global Meat News: “Europe doesn’t allow it​s [hormone-treated beef] in and they would be extremely strict and look very closely at what was going from the UK into Europe. Our consumers would be very cautious about it. It is a consumer concern, and they will have a lot of reservations about it, which could have wider consequences.”​

According to a leaked briefing document discovered by The Times, the Australian Government discussed the UK’s unwillingness to import its hormone-treated beef. In the enquiry, ministers feared that if the UK were to continue to adhere to EU regulations on hormone use, Australian producers would not be able to increase their supply.

A spokesperson for meat producer JBS Australia said: “In our view, the guiding principles for the Australian negotiators must be expanding access for Australian red meat through reducing technical and tariff barriers. When dealing with these trade barriers, this must be science based and consistent with WTO obligations.”

In response, the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) reaffirmed its commitment to a symbiotic trade agreement with Australia, with a spokesperson commenting: “This government has been very clear that the UK will maintain its own high animal welfare and environmental standards in future free trade agreements. To say anything else is untrue.”​