Yellowhammer: No-deal warning over veterinary medicines and food supplies

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Written by Rachel Martin

Cross-Channel imports to the UK could face “significant disruption lasting up to six months” with the potential to cause shortages of human and animal medicines and supplies, according to secret Government No-deal planning papers.

The Government was forced to publish documents from Operation Yellowhammer, its No-deal contingency planning paper earlier this week.

It warned: “The reliance of medicines and medical products’ supply chains on the short straits crossing make them particularly vulnerable to severe extended delays”, and added that shortages of some food items could also be likely coming up to Christmas.

Veterinary supplies

British Veterinary Association president Simon Doherty warned that the short service life of veterinary medicines made it hard to prepare stockpiles.

“Continued access to veterinary medicines post-Brexit is essential for safeguarding animal health and welfare, public safety and the food chain in the UK,” he said.

“Our concerns with regards to veterinary medicines lie with those for long term health conditions and medicines that have a short shelf life – such as vaccines.

Most vaccines cannot be stored for long periods of time and the absence of them could have an adverse effect on the health and welfare of farm animals, horses and pets.
“The Government has made assurances that it would prioritise maintaining the supply of these products in a no-deal Brexit scenario.

“The BVA continues to work with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and the industry body National Office of Animal Health (NOAH) to monitor the situation.

“While we don’t advise the stockpiling of medicines, we would advise animal owners to discuss the timing of any vaccinations with their vet.

“We would also urge pet owners whose animals are undergoing long term treatment to seek repeat prescriptions in good time from their veterinary practice.”

Impact on the food chain

Yellowhammer also warns that the UK could see shortages of some fresh foods as key inputs for the supply chain such as chemicals, primary ingredients and packaging “may be in shorter supply”.

The document warned that the Government would not be able to fully anticipate all potential impacts to the agri-food supply chain and added that panic buying could further exacerbate disruption to food stocks. It read:

In combination, these two factors will not cause an overall shortage of food in the UK but will reduce the availability and choice of products and will increase prices, which could impact vulnerable groups.
“The UK growing season will have come to an end and the agri-food supply chain will be under increased pressure at this time of year, due to Christmas, which is the busiest time of year for food retailers.”

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