Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman to write to prime minister David Cameron over Food Standards Agency ‘red tape’ madness blocking Cranswick Country Food’s pork exports to the Far East

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman is to write to Prime Minister David Cameron over what he regards as 'red tape madness' holding back the growth of a company with a base in Watton.

Cranswick Country Foods was discussed during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday, when MP for Beverley and Holderness Graham Stuart, highlighted how the Food Standards Agency is blocking the company's exports to the Far East.

Cranswick Country Foods has branches in several locations throughout the country and Cranswick Norfolk, in Watton, is one of the largest processors of pork in the UK.

It represents several well-known brands, including Sainsbury's, Tesco Finest, Jamie Oliver, Simply Sausages and Weight Watchers, and, despite having US Department of Agriculture Approval (USDA), the plant has been refused export rights by the Foods Standard Agency (FSA) to the Far East on health and safety grounds.

Mr Freeman, who visited the company's Watton site on Friday, said: 'Cranswick Norfolk is one of Europe's premier pork butchery facilities and together with its group companies across the UK it has won multiple food industry awards.

'It is one of the biggest employers in Mid Norfolk with 900 staff, recently benefiting from a further �12 million in investment, and as I saw from my visit they hold the importance of health and safety and hygiene exceptionally highly.

'The rising average income in countries like China in the Far East are opening up huge markets for the UK, with particular demand in China for what is called the '5th Quarter' – effectively the parts we do not even commonly eat here in the UK.

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'Agriculture and farming are of major growth potential to Norfolk and it strikes me as ridiculous for the FSA to hinder growth to a company that already represents brands like Jamie Oliver.

'Red tape madness is not the way for us to create a sustainable recovery.

'After discussing the issue with chief operating officer, Adam Couch, and site managing director, Chris Aldersley, I have decided to endorse the points raised by Graham Stuart MP in the House by writing to the Prime Minister and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

'I shall also be inviting the FSA director to meet with me to see a solution can be found.'

During Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Stuart, praised the work done at one of the company's factories in Yorkshire, and said: 'Unfortunately, the FSA is blocking exports from this excellent plant to the Far East. Can my right hon. Friend assure me that job-destroying and unnecessary regulation will not be tolerated by his Government?'

To which, Mr Cameron replied: 'It is vital that we re-balance our economy, with greater emphasis on business investment and on exports. Exports to China went up by 20pc last year.

'I shall do everything I can to help to resolve the situation, and I shall be happy to ask a minister from DEFRA to meet my hon. Friend to discuss this issue.'

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