“Product and food safety” is a real thing, but it can also be used as a tool of childish geopolitical games. Russia is famous for doing this with cheese, as the nation has veritably banned all foreign imports of cheese for what seem to be nothing other than nationalistic impulses, and instead, have forces people in Russia to eat the famous (for being absolutely disgusting) Russian cheese. As such, “illegal cheese rings” are not uncommon, and Russia is known to destroy cheese that is perfectly good under the name of “food safety” but really for national pride.
I mention this because a current similar example is happening in the UK with the EU, but instead of cheese, it is with ham sandwiches, where as the UK Guardia reports, truck drivers and general travelers are being harassed by European customs officials and told they cannot bring ham sandwiches but also cheese, fish, or any other food products into the UK because of “food safety”.
Dutch TV news has aired footage of customs officers confiscating ham sandwiches from drivers arriving by ferry from the UK under post-Brexit rules banning personal imports of meat and dairy products into the EU.
Officials wearing high-visibility jackets are shown explaining to startled car and lorry drivers at the Hook of Holland ferry terminal that since Brexit, “you are no longer allowed to bring certain foods to Europe, like meat, fruit, vegetables, fish, that kind of stuff.”
To a bemused driver with several sandwiches wrapped in tin foil who asked if he could maybe surrender the meat and keep just the bread, one customs officer replied: “No, everything will be confiscated. Welcome to Brexit, sir, I’m sorry.”
The ban came into force on New Year’s Day as the Brexit transition period came to an end, with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) saying travellers should “use, consume, or dispose of” prohibited items at or before the border.
“From 1 January 2021 you will not be able to bring POAO (products of an animal origin) such as those containing meat or dairy (eg a ham and cheese sandwich) into the EU,” the Defra guidance for commercial drivers states.
The European commission says the ban is necessary because meat and dairy products can contain pathogens causing animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth or swine fever and “continue to present a real threat to animal health throughout the union”.
Dutch customs also posted a photograph of foodstuffs ranging from breakfast cereals to oranges that officials had confiscated in the ferry terminal, adding: “Since 1 January, you can’t just bring more food from the UK.”
The customs service added: “So prepare yourself if you travel to the Netherlands from the UK and spread the word. This is how we prevent food waste and together ensure that the controls are speeded up.” (source)
This has nothing to do with “food safety”. It is not as though UK foods suddenly turned toxic to continental stomachs the minute Brexit was passed. Rather, this is political. Just as Russia plays the “cheese game”, Europe is playing a “ham game”, and it likely does not help that much of continental Europe is already a major producer of pork products (Germany is the second largest pork producer in the world).
This is about Europe doing what Russia does with cheese, but this time, it is arguably worse than what Russia does, because it is more inclusive, and it is part of the ‘separating’ of the UK from the rest of Europe, that while ‘European’, pushes them out, leaving the main power vacuum to be filled by the strongest and most economically robust nation in Europe- Germany.
It was never about ham, that is, unless one is talking about further enriching Germanic ‘piggy banks’ so that she can prepare to re-arm herself and assert herself military again as she has so often done in the past.