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17.16 18 Jul 2019


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The man who could replace Theresa May as British prime minister has wrongly claimed that European Union 'red tape' forces smoked fish producers to pack their products with "plastic ice pillows".

Boris Johnson told an audience at London's Excel centre on Wednesday night that a kipper smoker had his costs "massively increased by Brussels bureaucrats" who "have insisted" that each kipper must be accompanied by the ice pillow.

The necessity for the ice pillow is actually a UK regulation, not an EU one.

It requires producers of smoked fish to include an ice pack when dispatching their product by post.

Brandishing a kipper from a producer in the Isle of Man at the podium, Mr Johnson claimed Brexit would finally free the UK from EU "regulatory overkill".

However, the European Commission food safety spokesperson Anca Paduraru told a press conference in Brussels: "The case described by Mr Johnson falls outside the scope of EU legislation and is purely a UK national competence."

The Isle of Man is also not a member of the EU.

Boris Johnson British Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson is seen in Gloucestershire, England | Image: Jacob King/PA Wire/PA Images

Ms Paduraru said: "Our main priority is the health of our citizens as well as safeguarding the standards in terms of public health and food safety - which are the highest in the world as you know.

"When it comes to the specific case mentioned, while the food business operators have an obligation to meet the microbiological requirements, the safety requirements to ensure the safety of its food, the sale of products from food business operator to the final consumer is not covered by the EU legislation on food hygiene.

"So this means that the case described by Mr Johnson falls outside the scope of the EU legislation and it's purely a UK national competence."

The EU's food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis was more blunt.

On Twitter, he wrote: "Boris, the Isle of Man is not bound to the EU 'pointless and damaging' red tape in food safety that we are proud of because it protects consumers.

"You omitted to say that the Isle of Man is not in the EU. This packaging - UK competence. Yet another smoke. #fakenews."

Mr Johnson got some laughs from Conservative Party supporters as he raised the packaged kipper into the air.

He said: "If you want to understand why it is that we must leave the EU and the advantages of coming out, I want you to consider this kipper which has been presented to me just now by the editor of a national newspaper who received it from a kipper smoker in the Isle of Man who is utterly furious because after decades of sending kippers like this through the post, he has had his costs massively increased by Brussels bureaucrats who insist that each kipper must be accompanied by this, a plastic ice pillow.

"Pointless, expensive, environmentally damaging 'elf and safety'."

EU regulations do cover wide sectors - and the UK will still have to abide by those regulations even after Brexit for products it wishes to sell into the bloc.


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