Tag Archives: food

World Food Programme wins Nobel Peace Prize

The United Nations food agency, the World Food Programme (WFP), won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for its efforts to combat hunger and improve conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas.

The Rome-based organization says it helps some 97 million people in about 88 countries each year and that one in nine people worldwide still do not have enough to eat.

“The need for international solidarity and multilateral co-operation is more conspicuous than ever,” chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen of the Norwegian Nobel Committee told a news conference.

The last time the accolade was awarded to a group was in 2017, when the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) won.

WATCH | 2020 Nobel Peace Prize announcement:

There was no shortage of causes or candidates on this year’s list.

While the Norwegian Nobel Committee maintains absolute secrecy about whom it favours for arguably the world’s most prestigious prize, that has never stopped speculation ahead of the announcement.

Guesses — and bets — this year had focused on Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, recovering from a nerve agent attack he blames on Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the World Health Organization for its role in addressing the coronavirus pandemic.

Even U.S. President Donald Trump seemed to believe he deserves the prize, though one of the few predictions that pundits felt comfortable making was that he would be disappointed.

There were 318 candidates — 211 individuals and 107 organizations. Nominations could be made by a select group, including national lawmakers, heads of state and certain international institutions.

The deadline for nominations was Feb. 1, which meant that those on the front lines of fighting COVID-19 — which was only declared a pandemic in March — appeared unlikely contenders.

Along with enormous prestige, the prize comes with a 10-milion krona ($ 1.5 million Cdn) cash award and a gold medal to be handed out at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway, on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death. This year’s ceremony will be scaled down due to the pandemic.

On Monday, the Nobel Committee awarded the prize for physiology and medicine for discovering the liver-ravaging hepatitis C virus. Tuesday’s prize for physics honoured breakthroughs in understanding the mysteries of cosmic black holes, and the chemistry prize on Wednesday went to scientists behind a powerful gene-editing tool. The literature prize was awarded to American poet Louise Glück on Thursday for her “candid and uncompromising” work.

Still to come next week is the prize for outstanding work in the field of economics.

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The Best Meal Delivery Service for Fresh, Delicious Food — Blue Apron, Home Chef, Sun Basket and More

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World also on brink of ‘hunger pandemic,’ head of UN food agency says

The head of the United Nations food agency warned Tuesday that, as the world is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, it is also “on the brink of a hunger pandemic” that could lead to “multiple famines of biblical proportions” within a few months if immediate action isn’t taken.

World Food Program (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley told the UN Security Council that even before COVID-19 became an issue, he was telling world leaders that “2020 would be facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.” That’s because of wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, locust swarms in Africa, frequent natural disasters and economic crises including in Lebanon, Congo, Sudan and Ethiopia, he said.

Beasley said today 821 million people go to bed hungry every night all over the world, a further 135 million people are facing “crisis levels of hunger or worse,” and a new WFP analysis shows that as a result of COVID-19 an additional 130 million people “could be pushed to the brink of starvation by the end of 2020.”

He said in the video briefing that WFP is providing food to nearly 100 million people on any given day, including “about 30 million people who literally depend on us to stay alive.”

Beasley, who is himself recovering from COVID-19, said if those 30 million people can’t be reached, “our analysis shows that 300,000 people could starve to death every single day over a three-month period” — and that doesn’t include increased starvation due to the coronavirus.

“In a worst-case scenario, we could be looking at famine in about three dozen countries, and in fact, in 10 of these countries we already have more than one million people per country who are on the verge of starvation,” he said.


Volunteers carry sacks filled with food for vulnerable residents in Lagos, Nigeria, on April 9. (Temilade Adelaja/Reuters)

According to WFP, the 10 countries with the worst food crises in 2019 were Yemen, Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria, Sudan, Nigeria and Haiti.

Beasley said in many countries the food crisis is the result of conflict.

But he said he raised the prospect of “a hunger pandemic” because “there is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself.”

The WFP chief said lockdowns and economic recession are expected to lead to major income losses for the working poor.

Collapse of tourism, oil 

He pointed to a sharp drop in overseas remittances that will hurt countries such as Haiti, Nepal and Somalia; a loss of tourism revenue which, for example, will damage Ethiopia where it accounts for 47 percent of total exports; and the collapse of oil prices which will have a significant impact in lower-income countries like South Sudan where oil accounts for almost 99 percent of total exports.

As the UN’s logistics backbone, Beasley said WFP has played a major role in tackling COVID-19 by delivering millions of pieces of protective equipment, testing kits and face masks to 78 countries on behalf of the World Health Organization and by running humanitarian air services to get doctors, nurses and humanitarian staff into countries that need help.

He urged greater humanitarian access, coordinated action to deliver aid, an end to trade disruptions, and accelerated and increased funding including $ 350 million US to set up a network of logistics hubs and transport systems to keep supply chains running worldwide.

“The truth is, we do not have time on our side, so let’s act wisely — and let’s act fast,” Beasley said. “I do believe that with our expertise and partnerships, we can bring together the teams and the programs necessary to make certain the COVID-19 pandemic does not become a humanitarian and food crisis catastrophe.”

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Pandemic could affect food supplies, power grids, telecommunications

If cases of COVID-19 continue to multiply, labour shortages could affect food supplies and undermine Canada’s critical infrastructure, an internal government briefing note obtained by CBC News warns.

The document, prepared by Public Safety Canada, says accelerating rates of illness among Canadians could create labour shortages in essential services.

The two most “pressing” areas of concern, it says, are procurement of medical goods and the stability of the food supply chain.

“These shortages are likely to have the greatest impact in the two sectors mentioned above, as it will affect our ability to provide health care and essential goods, including food, to Canadians,” notes the document.

“Labour shortages could also affect Canada’s critical infrastructure, including power grids, banking and telecommunications and this will further impair Canadians’ quality of life at this difficult time.” 

A federal source, speaking on the condition they not be named, said there’s a fear that some workers in essential services, including prison guards, will refuse to come to work for safety reasons.

Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff said workers have the right to refuse work if they feel unsafe, although the only resistance he’s seeing on a national scale so far is happening among long-term care workers who don’t have proper safety gear.

He said securing more personal protective equipment could calm fears across a number of sectors.

“I know this is a learning curve. You wouldn’t have thought, and I wouldn’t have thought, that grocery clerks should have personal protective equipment like a mask, or a bus driver,” Yussuff said.

“We have never encountered seeing people in those types of jobs wearing a mask doing their regular duties but because of COVID-19, I think we have to be far more vigilant and I think those workers have every right to request the proper mask and their employer should be able to provide it.

“I know everybody is scrambling to make sure that is the reality. But of course, with the limited availability of products, I’m hoping by a week or two maybe most of this might be solved.”

Food supply concerns grow

Fears about the stability of supply chains are already playing out in parts of the country. 

Oceanex Inc., one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest shipping companies, said Monday that it might have to cancel shipments due to pandemic-related financial losses.

A day later, Marine Atlantic, a federal agency, said it can step in if Oceanex Inc. has to stop carrying freight to St. John’s. 

“We’re looking at all options just to make sure the supply chain stays in place,” Seamus O’Regan, MP for St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, said Tuesday. “It’s way too important so we’ll make sure it gets done.”


The Cargill meat packing plant in southern Alberta temporarily laid off 1,000 workers after dozens at the plant tested positive for COVID-19, according to the union. (Google Maps)

In Alberta, the union representing some workers at the Cargill meat packing plant in High River, about 60 kilometres south of Calgary, is arguing the facility should be closed for at least two weeks to come up with a plan after 38 workers there tested positive for COVID-19.

It echoes a story playing out in the U.S., where the head of Smithfield Foods Inc. — the world’s largest pork producer — recently warned that American meat supplies are “perilously close to the edge” after it shut its South Dakota plant due to an outbreak.

“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” said Smithfield’s chief executive officer Ken Sullivan in a statement. 

“It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running.”

In a briefing on Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says she’s confident Canada has enough food but acknowledged labour shortages on farms and outbreaks among workers at processing plants could affect the food supply. 

“I think our system is strong enough and resilient enough that it will adapt, but these days it is particularly challenging,” she said.

“I do not worry that we will not have enough food … but we might see some differences in the variety and, hopefully not, but maybe in the prices as well.”

Yussuff said the government still needs to make sure temporary foreign workers, who travel to Canada for the spring planting, are given protective gear and proper health care and are set up in safe living conditions.

“We continue to raise concerns and [the federal government] is scrambling to try and address them,” he said.

“If they’re not careful, I think it might force countries in which these workers are migrating to come here to do this work to say, ‘Hang on a minute.’ Whether it’s Jamaica or Mexico or Guatemala, those governments might intervene and say, ‘We’re not sending our people to the kind of conditions that are inadequate.'”

Ottawa, provinces opposed to invoking Emergencies Act

The briefing document was prepared as part of the federal government’s consultations with the regions on the Emergencies Act, a step the prime minister has said he’d prefer not to take.

Last week, Trudeau sent a letter to the premiers explaining what invoking the act could entail — such as giving the federal government the power to order qualified people to provide essential services.

“It is our hope that we don’t have to use it, ever,” Trudeau said on Friday. 


Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, is opposed to using the Emergencies Act to force essential employees to work. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

“We are seeing that the collaboration, the partnership among provinces and territories and the way we’re moving forward on this means that we might not ever have to use the Emergencies Act. And that would be our preference.”

The premiers vehemently opposed deploying those strict measures during a conference call last week and made that clear in writing today when they sent a letter to the prime minister.

“Premiers share the opinion that it is neither necessary nor advisable to invoke the act at this time,” said the letter, signed by Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, chair of the Council of the Federation.

“You have the commitment of premiers to maintain the strong working relationship we have cultivated as we face the challenges of COVID-19 together. We seek to continue to strengthen this cooperation as Canada moves forward.”

That cooperation has been playing out over much of the crisis. For example, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has promised to send personal protective equipment to Ontario and Quebec, the two hardest-hit provinces.

The briefing document also says collaboration between the provinces and territories has been effective.

“However, as the crisis continues to worsen, some additional measures and greater intervention could become appropriate,” notes the document.

Yussuff said he also opposes triggering the never-before-used Emergencies Act to force essential workers to stay on the job.

“I think if people are naturally concerned about their health we should listen to them because nobody should risk their life having to do their work,” he said.

“The Emergencies Act is not going to solve the problem. What will solve it is collaboration and  cooperation.”

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How Coffee and Food Chains Are Giving Back to First Responders Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

How Coffee and Food Chains Are Giving Back to First Responders Amid Coronavirus Outbreak | Entertainment Tonight

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Nick Jonas Jokes About the Food in His Teeth During the Jonas Brothers’ GRAMMYs Performance

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‘It’s everywhere in the food system’: Added sugar found in the diets of many babies, toddlers

Meal time at Alynn Casgrain’s home requires some co-ordination.

While her 11-month-old twin boys, Sam and Jake, wait patiently in their high chairs, four-year-old big sister Noelle cuts the vegetables for a pizza the whole family will soon be eating.

Casgrain and her husband, David Upper, believe their children should eat the same things they eat. That’s because the Toronto mom was surprised by the added sugars she found in products designed for infants and toddlers.

“Those yogurt drinks were shocking. Low fat, all sugar,” said Casgrain.

A recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics backs that up. It found that nearly 61 per cent of infants (6-11 months) and 98 per cent of toddlers (12-23 months) consumed added sugars as part of an average daily diet.

The added sugars were mainly found in flavoured yogurts and fruit drinks.

“We wanted to understand what the consumption of added sugars were among infants and toddlers. It’s a group that’s not very well studied, so we wanted to add to the research base,” said lead investigator Kirsten Herrick, with the U.S. National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md.


Nutrition experts warn us to try to limit our intake of added sugars, but they are everywhere: in breakfast cereals, baked goods, even yogurt and pasta sauces. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Herrick’s team analyzed data from 1,211 young children. They found that infants consumed about one teaspoon of added sugars daily; toddlers consumed about six teaspoons.

Experts, including the World Health Organization, say children should consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar daily — an amount equal to about 25 grams.

“What was surprising was how early added sugar consumption started and how quickly it increased,” she said.

‘Kids eat like we do’

Herrick describes added sugars as an extra amount of sweetener that’s added to any food product. It could be table sugar, honey, maple syrup or fruit concentrate. And it’s “everywhere in the food system,” she said, from fruit drinks and baked goods, to yogurts.

Jess Haines, an associate professor of applied nutrition at the University of Guelph, isn’t surprised by the findings.

“Kids eat like we do. And adults, both in the U.S and Canada, we eat a fair bit of sugar,” she said.

Haines said the university came to similar conclusions in its long-term Guelph Family Health Study, where researchers looked at various routines of children between 18 months and five years of age. When it came to diet, it found that 54 per cent of them exceeded the six teaspoons of sugar per day.


Jess Haines is an associate professor of applied nutrition at the University of Guelph. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Haines says that all this added sugar can have long-term health effects, starting with cavities.

“We also see that when kids have higher intakes of sugar that’s sustained over their lifetime, we can see an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes later in life.”

As a parent herself, Haines understands that many babies and toddlers can be picky eaters. She also knows the time constraints many mothers and fathers face during the day, so she tries to recommend solutions that involve re-imagining what a snack can look like.

“Think of snacks, really, as mini-meals. Why not take some of the foods that you’ve had for either breakfast or lunch, make it smaller and they can have a snack like that during the day,” she said.

Alynn Casgrain agrees. She and her husband try to control the added sugar intake of their children, particularly at home, by making much of their food from scratch.

Casgrain hopes this will lay the groundwork for healthy eating decisions later in life — but she knows it won’t be easy.

“You have to be realistic about the fact that wherever they go, whether they’re going to see friends or grandparents or when they get older and make their own decisions, there’s going to be sweet stuff in front of them.”

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Food scientists say don’t wash the turkey. Here’s why.

As family and friends gather over the holidays, food scientists say there are ways to make breaking bread both festive and safe.

If turkey and its side dishes will be served, there’s a few steps you should follow to avoid food-borne illness.

Public Health Ontario estimates illnesses from all food sources lead to an estimated 100,000 doctor’s office visits, 40,000 emergency department visits, 6,200 hospitalizations and more than 50 deaths a year.

For prevention, food safety experts recommend the 4Cs: clean, cook, chill and (avoid) cross-contamination. Here’s how.

Defrost

First off, make a plan to defrost the turkey.

Budget 12 hours per kilogram of frozen turkey in the fridge.

Or submerge the turkey in a container of cold water in a sealed package, changing the water about every 30 minutes. It takes about an hour per kilogram using this method.

Prepare

Dr. JinHee Kim is a public health physician with Public Health Ontario’s environmental and occupational health team. The advice on washing poultry, including turkey, has changed over the decades, she said.

“Now it’s recommended that you don’t wash the turkey or chicken,” Kim said. “It may do more harm than good.”

Washing a turkey isn’t effective at removing pathogens that cause stomach-turning illnesses, and studies suggest it is difficult to get rid of germs that can contaminate the sink, hands, utensils and countertops from raw juices splashing or touching surfaces.

But Kim recognizes that the tradition dies hard. “My mom, actually, I have to say, still sometimes washes her chicken or turkey.”

So where did the idea of washing the turkey idea originate and why does it persist?

Canadian Benjamin Chapman is a professor of food safety at North Carolina State University, where he helped to prepare a video on why not to wash poultry.

“Not sure exactly where it started, but it was something that was likely popularized by Julia Child back in the 1960s, and it remains in a lot of cookbooks today,” Chapman said in an email.

Instead of washing poultry after taking the meat out of a wrapper, it can be wiped down with a paper towel or cloth that’s disposed of, followed by washing your hands and any towel you might use to dry them.

Cook

The “danger zone” for pathogens to multiply lies between 4 C and 60 C.

Marsha Taylor is an epidemiologist with the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), where she tracks disease rates to try to detect any increases and to investigate outbreaks, including food-borne illnesses.

Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, needs to be cooked to 74 C or hotter, the BCCDC said in a recently updated advisory on the salmonella outbreak investigation that’s being tracked across Canada.

“The only way to know that you’ve reached that is to use a meat thermometer,” said Taylor. “There’s no way to visually see that you’ve cooked your turkey to 74 degrees Celsius.”


In this Aug. 13, 1992 photo, chef and author Julia Child holds tomatoes in the kitchen at her home in Cambridge, Mass. She likely popularized the idea of washing a turkey, which persists in cookbooks today despite studies suggesting it isn’t the best idea. (Jon Chase/Associated Press)

She too warns to avoid cross-contaminating clean surfaces and cooked food with raw foods and juices, particularly by keeping produce and raw proteins separate during preparation.

“Once raw turkey has touched a cutting board, a dish or utensils, all of those should be washed in hot, soapy water,” said Taylor, adding the same goes for your hands. 

The veggies

Kim said food safety includes a number of challenges, including more outbreaks over time due to fresh fruit and vegetables that are eaten without cooking — one of the steps to kill pathogens.

The recent recall of romaine lettuce in Canada and the U.S. because of potential contamination with pathogenic E. coli is a case in point. Other outbreaks have occurred with cantaloupes, peanut butter and spinach.   

What can consumers do?

Tim Sly, an epidemiologist and professor emeritus at Ryerson University’s School of Occupational and Public Health, has some suggestions.


Washing all vegetables thoroughly under cold running water is always a good idea to remove any dirt. (Dean Fosdick/Associated Press)

“It is best not to purchase pre-cut, bagged lettuce or mixed greens for raw salad use,” Sly said. “E. coli has been found to adhere to the cut surfaces much more successfully than to the intact leaves.”

Washing thoroughly with cold running water is always a good idea for greens that will be eaten uncooked, food safety experts say. 

But traceability is a major challenge.

“We are consuming fruit, vegetables and meat that originate from halfway around the world. What are the processes that are in place for transparency and traceability in the event that something occurs?” Kim asked.

Contamination can happen on a farm, in a processing facility or at home.

But better detection, Kim notes, also contributes to the trend toward more outbreaks from fresh produce.

“We are doing a much better job of identifying illness and linking it back to the food,” she said.

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‘I was shocked’: Complaints mount after Amazon sends food that’s expired or past its best-before date

Salad dressing more than four months past its best-before date. Infant formula that had expired months before it arrived. These are just some of the customer complaints posted on Amazon’s Canadian website about grocery orders that arrived past their prime.

CBC News examined customer reviews for various grocery items posted on Amazon.ca in 2018-19, and discovered numerous complaints about old food. Several customers reported that they had received expired infant formula and dozens more complained that the online retailer had sent food — including mayonnaise, baby food and coconut milk — that was past its best-before date.

Almost all the items were shipped directly from Amazon’s warehouses. The company said the problems have been addressed and were the result of isolated technical issues but did not elaborate.

Lana Lukyanava of Richmond Hill, Ont., said she was upset when her order of baby food from Amazon.ca arrived on July 22 — with a best-before date from several days earlier. 

“I was shocked. It’s baby food. How can they do that?” Lukyanava said in an interview with CBC News. “Don’t they have enough funds to implement quality control?”


A review by an Amazon.ca customer shows protein bars that appear to have a best-before date from close to a year before the order arrived. (Amazon.ca)

Andreea Catana of Calgary said she didn’t notice the cookies she bought on Amazon.ca last year were past their best-before date — until she ate one, and it tasted stale. 

“That is quite concerning that Amazon would not have somebody check the shelf life of their products before they send them out,” she said. 

Customers can’t check best-before dates before they buy food online. Food safety experts say Amazon needs to do better. 

The Seattle-based online retail giant began selling and shipping groceries to Canadians in 2013. 


Keith Warriner, a microbiologist at the University of Guelph, said selling expired infant formula is concerning because it means the product may have lost some of its nutrients. (CBC)

“They’ve got a corporate responsibility to ensure that people get a good product,” said Keith Warriner, a microbiologist at the University of Guelph.

He said selling expired infant formula is concerning because it means the product may have lost some of its nutrients.

“You basically could be giving your baby food that’s deficient,” he said.

Unlike infant formula, which has an expiration date, most foods come with only a best-before date, which guarantees food quality and freshness. While stale food typically doesn’t pose a health threat, food safety expert Rick Holley said it’s still bad business to ship it to customers. 

“Your expectation is that it’s good quality,” said Holley, a University of Manitoba professor emeritus. “If I want to buy [lesser]-quality food, I’ll go to that section of the grocery store, and I’ll be able to buy it at a discount.”

‘Top priority’ to provide ‘high-quality’ items, Amazon says

Amazon said that it’s committed to selling customers quality food. 

“Our top priority is ensuring customers receive safe, high-quality products when they order from our store,” the company said in an emailed statement.

“We have proactive processes in place to ensure customers receive products with sufficient shelf life and use a combination of artificial intelligence and manual systems to monitor for product quality and safety concerns.”

Amazon also said that its customer service teams can immediately stop selling an item if they become aware of quality concerns. 


A review on Amazon.ca shows a package of cookies that the customer said was past its best-before date when it arrived. (Amazon.ca)

If customers do happen to receive aged food, Amazon said, they can get a refund.

However, CBC News pointed out that the company’s Canadian website states that grocery items are non-returnable, giving some customers the impression that they can’t get their money back under any circumstances. 

Shortly after CBC News’s inquiry, Amazon added a line to its returns policy page that grocery items can be “refunded or replaced.”

Lukyanava didn’t try to return her baby food because it was inexpensive. Instead, she posted a review about her experience but said she never got a response. 

“I was hoping that it would cause some reaction, but there was nothing,” she said. “I felt really disappointed.”

CBC News asked Amazon about Lukyanava’s case. A few days later, the company emailed her to apologize for her experience and inform her she’s getting a refund for her $ 6 purchase. 

Other retailers get complaints

Amazon.ca isn’t the first retailer to face complaints about selling old food. In 2015, CBC’s Marketplace interviewed employees at a number of grocery stores who claimed that their stores used tricks to make food appear fresh and changed best-before dates to extend their shelf life.

Amazon’s U.S. site has also faced accusations that some of the third-party merchants on its site are selling old food. 

U.S. data analytics firm 3PM Solutions recently analyzed Amazon.com’s 100 bestselling food products for CNBC. The firm found that at least 40 per cent of third-party sellers had more than five customer complaints about goods that had expired or were past their best-before date. 

“Seeing that 40 per cent of these sellers had multiple mentions of selling expired product was disappointing,” 3PM CEO Rob Dunkel said in an interview with CBC News. “It’s really the consumer who’s really getting hurt here.” 

Amazon told CBC News that it screens all its selling partners and that they must abide by product quality guidelines. The company said it takes appropriate action when dealers don’t play by the rules.

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Leaked U.K. government memos warn of food, drug shortages in a ‘no-deal’ Brexit

Secret British government documents have warned of serious disruptions across the country in the event that the U.K. leaves the European Union without a trade deal on Oct. 31, according to a report.

The Sunday Times newspaper published what it said was what the British government expects in the case of a sudden, “no-deal” Brexit. Among the most serious effects: “significant” disruptions to the supply of drugs and medicine, a decrease in the availability of fresh food and even potential fresh water shortages due to possible interruptions of imported water treatment chemicals.

Although the grim scenarios reportedly outlined in the government documents have long been floated by academics and economists, they’ve been repeatedly dismissed as scare-mongering by Brexit proponents.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is ready to leave the EU regardless of whether he is able to renegotiate the Brexit deal struck with Brussels by his predecessor, Theresa May.

His own officials, however, have warned that with a no-deal Brexit, the sharing of law enforcement data and the health of Britain’s crucial financial services industry could be in jeopardy after Oct. 31.

The documents published by the Times also quote officials as warning that up to 85 per cent of all trucks wouldn’t be ready for French customs at the critical English Channel crossing that day, causing lines that could stretch out for days. Some 75 per cent of all drugs coming into Britain arrive via that crossing, the memos warned, “making them particularly vulnerable to severe delays.”

The officials foresee “critical elements” of the food supply chain being affected that would “reduce availability and choice and increase the price, which will affect vulnerable groups.”

Britain’s Cabinet Office didn’t return a message seeking comment on the documents, but Michael Gove, the British minister in charge of no-deal preparations, insisted that the files represented a “worst case scenario.”

Very “significant steps have been taken in the last three weeks to accelerate Brexit planning,” he said in a message posted to Twitter.


But the documents, which are titled “planning assumptions,” mention a “base scenario,” not a “worst case” one. The Times quoted an unnamed Cabinet Office source as saying the memos were simply realistic assessments of what was most likely to happen.

The opposition Labour Party, which is trying to delay Brexit and organize a government of national unity, held up the report as another sign that no-deal must be avoided.

“It seems to me is what we’ve seen is a hard-headed assessment of reality, that sets out in really stark terms what a calamitous outcome of no-deal Brexit would mean for the United Kingdom,” lawmaker Nick Thomas-Symonds told Sky News television. “The government is reckless in the way it’s been pushing forward with no-deal planning in this way.”

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country is ready for Brexit, even without a deal to smooth the transition.

Merkel said Sunday during an open house at the chancellery in Berlin that she would “try everything in my power to find solutions” and that “I believe that it would be better to leave with an agreement than without one.”

But she added that “should it come to that we are prepared for this eventuality too.”

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