The Government should press the pause button on new and burdensome yet-to-be-implemented EU regulations

The Government should press the pause button on new and burdensome yet-to-be-implemented EU regulations

During the Brexit campaign, I was often quoted as complaining that EU rules forced us to spend thousands of pounds on new packaging so that a packet of smoked salmon, could have an EU warning sign on the back saying “Contains Fish”.

One customer tweeted his surprise that a company of Forman’s reputation would have a problem spending money on printing allergen information. I responded that if a customer doesn’t know that salmon is a fish, he or she has far bigger issues than food allergens.

EU directives are far too prescriptive and the one-size-fits-all nature of the rules are one of the reasons that small businesses across the country became so frustrated with the EU’s burdensome and costly red tape. However, despite voting to leave we continue to face more of the same.

This December, new nutritional information has to be printed on every food label. Now this may be fine if you are Nestle or Heinz where millions of food products are being manufactured and the cost of a label change is negligible. However, in a business such as ours, this is yet another huge cost and burden.

At Forman’s, as well as being known salmon smokers, over the last 15 years we have developed our business into a bespoke food producer. We will produce anything customers require, providing it doesn’t compromise our own quality standards. Some restaurants buy their entire menu from us. Every day we send out orders to around 300 wholesale customers, restaurant, caterers, hotels and food stores, and we may have around 500 different products leaving us each day. Every day is different and each food label is different to the next, with recipes ever changing.

So just imagine how hard and time consuming it is to calculate the nutritional values of each and every product, then set them up to print on a label, change the label for each product and so on. And many of our recipes will only be used for a one-off. Indeed, where we are supplying into restaurant kitchens, the nutritional label won’t even be looked at and the packaging will go straight into the bin.

However, the EU requires that we and every small food producer abides by the same rules which apply to mass producers. Huge multinationals, who support (and often instigate) such rules, can afford to deal with them, small businesses cannot. Even if they could, I would argue that the costs are not offset by the benefits.

And right now, the most frustrating element of these new rules is that they are still being introduced at a time when we have already decided we are leaving the EU club.

Theresa May should press the pause button on any new regulations yet to be implemented and decide whether these are rules we would want to include within UK legislation going forward. If not, the red tape should stay on the roll.