Dutch police officers have sparked fury after officers were filmed laughing at a British truck driver while confiscating his ham sandwiches in line with post-Brexit import rules.
‘Welcome to the Brexit, sir,’ one of the officers says mockingly in the video of the incident, as the driver pleads: ‘Can you take the meat and leave me the bread?’
Footage from Dutch TV showed the border officials confiscating sandwiches and other foodstuffs from drivers entering the Netherlands from the UK.
The EU does not allow for meat, meat products, milk or dairy products to be brought in from countries outside the union for ‘personal consumption’.
With Britain having left the EU on January 1, the rules now apply to people crossing the Channel.
But the border officer’s strict stance on the newly-imposed rules has been slammed as ‘pathetic nit-picking’ by a leading Brexiteer.
‘The whole story smacks of one sandwich short of a picnic, literally,’ Andrew Bridgen MP told MailOnline.
‘As the Dutch know as well as everyone else in the EU we have the highest food standards in Europe.
Pictured: A still from footage showing Dutch police officers confiscating food from a British lorry driver. Holding up the man’s ham sandwiches wrapped in foul, they are seen telling him that the sandwiches will have to be confiscated because they have ham in them
‘Welcome to the Brexit, sir,’ one of the officers is heard saying in the video of the incident, as the driver asks: ‘Can you take the meat and leave me the bread?’
Mr Bridgen, a prominent Eurosceptic, spent 22 years in the food industry before entering Parliament in 2010.
‘Is this is going to be the way it is then? Are they really going to go through a lorry driver’s lunchbox going through customs, for something that is causing any danger?
‘We need to talk to the European Union about what is really quite pathetic nit-picking. Otherwise this will not be good for the Dutch ports, hauliers will go somewhere else.’
Mark Francois, Chairman of parliament’s European Research Group, said: ‘This is pettifogging bureaucracy gone mad.
‘The EU have always worried that a dynamic, free-trading UK, outside the EU, would eventually eat their lunch on world markets, so now they are retaliating by trying to steal our truckers’ lunches instead! It’s pathetic really.’
Dutch customs officers can be seen confiscating dozens of sandwiches and packets of meat from people arriving via ferry from the United Kingdom at Hoek van Holland, the Netherlands
Mark Francois, Chairman of parliament’s European Research Group, said: ‘This is petitfogging bureaucracy gone mad’
Andrew Bridgen MP slammed the strict enforcement of the rule as ‘pathetic nit-picking’
Dutch officers can be heard in the footage explaining the new post-Brexit rules for drivers crossing into the EU, which forbids bringing in certain foods that originated in the UK.
‘Since Brexit you are [no longer allowed] certain foods to Europe,’ one border official at the Hook of Holland sea port explained to the Netherlands’ NPO television.
The footage shows officers rooting through people’s vehicles and holding up any food they find within, saying that it will need to be confiscated.
When the driver – coming off the ferry from Britain – asks the officials whether he could keep the bread of his ham sandwiches wrapped in tinfoil, the official is heard saying: ‘No, everything will be confiscated – welcome to the Brexit, sir. I’m sorry.’
Guidance from the UK government produced for drivers travelling to EU countries states: ‘From 1 January 2021 you will not be able to bring POAO (products of an animal origin) such as those containing meat or dairy (e.g. a ham and cheese sandwich) into the EU.’
Pictured: The driver’s ham sandwiches, wrapped in foil. Under new rules imposed on Britain following its exit from the EU, meat and dairy for personal consuption cannot be brought into the EU from the UK
When the driver asking the officials whether he could just keep the bread of his ham sandwiches which had been wrapped in tinfoil the official said: ‘No, everything will be confiscated – welcome to the Brexit, sir. I’m sorry’
More serious food supply problems have emerged since the UK officially left the EU on January 1, 2021, with gaps appearing on supermarket fruit and veg shelves amid warnings that supplies are being squeezed by Brexit red tape at ports.
Lettuce, cauliflower packs, oranges, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are among the fresh produce to be listed as ‘out of stock’ on Tesco’s website.
Several of the UK’s leading food companies have pointed to the complexities behind the ‘rules of origin’ arrangements now enshrined in the Brexit trade deal.
These mean that only goods made up of produce originating in the UK qualify as tariff-free, with Steve Rowe – CEO of Marks & Spencer – saying last week ‘Tariff free does not feel like tariff free when you read the fine print.’
Meanwhile, food industry experts and the Cabinet minister with responsibility for Brexit, Michael Gove, have warned that problems at the ports are likely to escalate from today
Lettuce, cauliflower packs, oranges, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are listed as ‘out of stock’ in some areas on Tesco’s website. Pictured: Sainsbury’s runs low on fruit and veg in Haverhill, Suffolk
Taking food from the UK to EU: What are the rules post-Brexit?
Since January 1, 2021 – when Britain officially left the EU – rules governing what food can be taken into the EU from the UK have tightened.
The EU does not allow for meat, meat products, milk and dairy products for personal consumption to be brought in from countries outside the union.
This now includes the UK after Brexit, meaning anyone crossing the Channel will be subject to food confiscations if they do not follow these rules.
There is an exemption for powdered infant milk, infant food, and special foods or special pet feed required for medical reasons, if weighing less than 2 kilograms, and if they meet other criteria.
Plants and plant-based products are also now subject to stricter measures.
The rules stem from the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease endemic within the EU.
‘It is known that dangerous pathogens that cause animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease and classical swine fever can reside in meat, milk or their products,’ EU guidance reads.
‘Therefore, pathogens could be introduced into the EU if personal goods containing meat, milk or their products are sent by post or carried in the baggage of travellers arriving from countries outside the EU, where such pathogens may be circulating.’
A spokesperson for the British Meat processors Association said: ‘At the end of the day the rules are the rules (on animal origin) now that we are a third country to the EU.’
But they added that the Dutch had little to worry about on the standards of British produce, saying: ‘our status on pigs, sheep and cattle is at a very high standard.’
Meanwhile, food industry experts and the Cabinet minister with responsibility for Brexit, Michael Gove, have warned that problems at the ports are likely to escalate from today.
The number of trucks going through Dover and the Channel Tunnel is expected to rise to to normal levels after a New Year lull as the French step up enforcement of post-Brexit paperwork.
Freight expert John Shirley said: ‘The chaos has begun. Organising even the simplest load to Europe has become an almost impossible task due to the mountain of red tape brought in on January 1.’
The Road Haulage Association said there are already logjams and this situation will escalate when border controls with France are stepped up from today.
The group estimates that of the 2,000 outbound lorries a day through Dover and the Channel Tunnel last week, one in five were turned back.
It said problems will surge as these numbers increase to the normal 6,000 a day.
Its managing director for policy, Rod McKenzie, said: ‘Drivers are being turned back for a variety of reasons, including not having a valid Covid test. At the same time, they are being told the paperwork has not been done satisfactorily.
‘The French have had a relatively light touch on enforcement so far, but they won’t from Monday.’
Mr Gove admitted: ‘In the weeks ahead, we expect there will be significant additional disruption.’
Emergency financial aid could be needed to secure struggling food exporters facing challenged sending produce to the EU.
James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, told The Independent that exporters are finding the ‘door to the EU now shut’ to the EU, warning that British seafood firms were at risk of collapse.