A GROUP of farmers and food retailers have written to MPs in a bid to maintain high food standards post-Brexit.

The campaign, titled #SaveOurStandards, has been started by food producers, chefs, farmers, and community leaders, who are worried that there is a risk with trade deals being struck by the Government. It is feared that new deals could undercut farmers and put low quality food on UK shelves.

The group has written an open letter to 15 of the North-East’s MPs, calling on them to support the campaign and protect the high UK food standards.

Bridget Diane, of Newcastle-based FatLass Preserves, one of the signatories of the letter, said: “I’m all for a trade deal with USA, but not at the cost of dropping UK food standards.

“This, I believe, would devastate food businesses – both in our commercial and artisan sector, alongside making a mockery of animal standards in this country – standards that many have fought so hard to establish in this country.”

Alison Raper, of Teesdale Cheesemakers, said: “We believe a trade deal with the US, without imposing the current high UK food standards, would seriously undermine our ability to sustain our food industry.”

In a recent poll of County Durham residents, 66 per cent had serious concerns over the potential increase in US style mega farms because of new deals. More than 80 per cent of residents surveyed did not want to buy cheaper beef and vegetables if it meant they had been treated with hormones and currently banned pesticides. The signatories of the letter fear this could become a reality if the Government does not hold firm with the deals.

Peter Gibson, MP for Darlington, said: “I fully recognise the importance of our high food standards to local businesses across the North-East.

“I am proud of our exceptional standards, and I am confident that the Government will never compromise them. Without exception, all animal products imported into the UK under existing or future free trade agreements from all trading partners, including the US and others, will have to meet our high food safety standard.

“Indeed, there are already existing caveats in our domestic law that specifically prevent the import of products that use chlorine-washed chicken and hormone injected beef from large-scale farms.

“Along with the existing independent Food Standards Agency, the Trade and Agriculture Commission, that sits as an independent body, is being given full statutory footing to ensure that businesses and farmers can be confident that any future trade deals will not allow for new food products or processes of animal origin treated with certain substances into the UK market."