Bonkers EU rules threaten to ruin ‘quality’ of Ireland’s fish and chips after Brexit

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One of the country’s oldest chip shops has warned the bloc’s tough food safety rules could lead to a change of taste and portion sizes because of a ban on third country table potatoes and seed potatoes. Britain’s transition from the European Union’s single market and customs union expires at the end of the year. Leo Burdock said the unique qualities of British potatoes make them ideal for serving in their shops.

Derek Duggan, the chain’s potato sourcing expert, told RTE: “They have a better balance, chemically their composition, the dry matter and the sugars are more suited for the frying of chips, as they have that crispness and that flavour.

“Teagasc is working on developing a better home grown alternative, but they are not there yet.”

While domestic potatoes are used from time to time by Leo Burdock, the shop mostly uses British-grown products because of the flavours their customers have grown accustomed to.

Mr Duggan said Brexit could have serious repercussions on their servings of the much-loved takeaway meal.

“The supply is going to be affected, the quality is going to be different, we are looking at get as much homegrown stuff as we can, but that might not work out,” he said.

The UK has applied to become a third country supplier to potatoes to the bloc, but it is unsure whether the necessary certificates will be granted before the end of the transition period.

A notice by Ireland’s Department of Agriculture said: “From January 1, 2021, the UK will become a ‘third country’ and EU plant health rules in the area of intra-Union trade in plants, plant products, seed potatoes and ware potatoes will no longer apply to the UK.

“Therefore when the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU ends on December 31, 2020, the import of certified seed and ware potatoes from Great Britain will be prohibited.”

The memo explains that there is work underway to resolve the issue and potentially protect potato supply chains between the UK and Ireland.

“The UK has applied to the EU for ’third country’ equivalence for the export of certified seed and ware potatoes to the EU,” it says.

“This application must go through the EU law-making process and is not immediate. The EU has indicated this process will only begin upon the completion of the trade negotiations with the UK.”

Irish potato growers produce around 350,000 tonnes every year but the country relies on a further 80,000 tonnes being imported from the UK to help supply its chip shops.

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Only around 10,000 tonnes of Irish-grown potatoes are suitable for frying, according to experts.

EU officials have confirmed they’re currently assessing the British Government’s application to export potatoes to the bloc.

Potato-grower Thomas McKeown said: “Going forward it will be a big issue.”

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Last week it emerged EU food safety rules could prevent British exporters sending burgers and sausages to Northern Ireland.

Under EU food safety rules, chilled meat products cannot be imported from outside the bloc.

This means Northern Irish supermarkets would be cut off from their mainland suppliers while the province follows EU rules.

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