60 new jobs to be created as Brexit port food checks set to double

Food imports from the European Union now face inspections when arriving at the Port of Felixstowe

Food imports from the European Union now face inspections when arriving at the Port of Felixstowe - Credit: PICTURE COURTESY OF THE PORT OF FELIXSTOWE

Sixty new jobs are to be created at Felixstowe and Harwich ports to cope with a huge workload increase arising from the need to inspect food imports from EU nations.

Before Brexit EU imports were not inspected or tested at all.

But now they will be subject to the same rigorous safety checks and regulations as products from the rest of the world destined for supermarket shelves, wholesalers, restaurants and food manufacturers.

Mary Rudd, East Suffolk Council cabinet member for community health, said the changes caused by Brexit could double the workload for the Suffolk Coastal Port Health Authority (SCPHA).

She said: "The team comprises 81 people and we expect to add another 60 when switching on our new 24/7 service in the coming months.

"In carrying out their statutory responsibilities, the team protects consumers from unsafe or substandard products whilst supporting the many compliant and competent businesses which make their living elsewhere in the system; the producers, farmers, growers and logistics companies, to name but a few.

Image of the Port of Felixstowe from drone Picture: Stephen Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Workloads could double for at Felixstowe and Harwich ports for the teams dealing with food imports - Credit: PICTURE COURTESY OF THE PORT OF FELIXSTOWE/STEPHEN WALLER

"While the UK was part of the EU, the free movement of goods afforded to all member states meant that SCPHA would never inspect goods of EU origin, just as the EU would never inspect UK exports to the EU.

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"However, now that the UK is no longer part of the EU, we are required to start checking some types of EU imported food and likewise, the EU is starting to check our exports to it.

"In recent years, SCPHA has been handling 80,000 enquiries a year and carrying out all the required checks on 30,000 consignments of food.

"These statistics would not have included food products from any of the 27 member states of the EU. These numbers are therefore set to increase significantly – latest estimates suggest a doubling of workload across Felixstowe and Harwich."

The changes are being brought in gradually until October. The new posts will include port health support officers, IT experts, veterinarians, port health officers and managers, and recruitment is underway.

The announcement of freeport status for Felixstowe and Harwich could theoretically generate even further workload.

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