Blame EU for kipper rules?

Boris Johnson blames EU regulations - although they are UK rules

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Should the EU be blamed for kipper 'ice pillow' regulations?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

When Boris Johnson appeared at the final Conservative Party leadership hustings, he brought along a prop to support his claims about the EU.

The Tory MP wafted a plastic-wrapped smoked kipper above his head, criticising EU food rules.

He accused the bloc of "pointless, expensive" regulations about kippers.

However, the EU responded by saying it is UK - not EU - regulations that requires ice pillows for transporting smoked kippers.

The Claim

Boris Johnson has blasted EU food rules in the final Tory leadership hustings, the Evening Standard reports.

He brandished a smoked kipper on stage, claiming that EU rules mean that it cannot be posted without a plastic ice pillow.

Johnson said that kipper smokers are "furious" with the bloc's food regulations.

He said: "If you want to understand why it is that we must leave the EU and the advantages of coming out, I want you to consider this kipper.

"Which has been presented to me just now by the editor of a national newspaper, who received it from a kipper smoker in the Isle of Man, who is utterly furious because after decades of sending kippers like this through the post.

"He has had his costs massively increased by Brussels bureaucrats who insist that each kipper must be accompanied by this, a plastic ice pillow.

Johnson added: "Pointless, expensive, environmentally-damaging health and safety, ladies and gentlemen.

"When we come out therefore, we will not only be able to end this damaging regulatory overkill, but we will also be able to do things to boost Britain's economy and we will be able to establish an identity as a truly global Britain and get our mojo back."

The Counterclaim

However, the EU has exposed Johnson's kipper 'red tape' claim as nonsense, Sky News reports.

The European Commission said it is UK, not EU, regulation which requires producers of smoked fish to include an ice pack.

Anca Paduraru, the Commission's food safety spokesperson, told a press conference in Brussels that the case described by the Tory MP "falls outside the scope of EU legislation and is purely a UK national competence".

She said: "Our main priority is the health of our citizens as well as safeguarding the standards in terms of public health and food safety - which are the highest in the world as you know.

"When it comes to the specific case mentioned, while the food business operators have an obligation to meet the microbiological requirements, the safety requirements to ensure the safety of its food, the sale of products from food business operator to the final consumer is not covered by the EU legislation on food hygiene.

"So this means that the case described by Mr Johnson falls outside the scope of the EU legislation and it's purely a UK national competence."

The Facts

According to Full Fact, Johnson's kipper claims are a red herring. The UK Food Standards Agency - not the EU - requires kippers to be shipped at a specific temperature.

The agency said that smoked kippers sold online "must be kept to an acceptable temperature throughout transit". It requires businesses to ensure the materials used to do so are suitable for the food and the conditions of use.

Their guidance reads: "Foods that need refrigerating must be kept cool while they are being transported. This may need to be packed in an insulated box with a coolant gel or in a cool bag."

BBC's Reality Check also notes that the EU regulations about ice pillows covers fresh fish, not smoked fish.

It is also worth noting that the Isle of Man is neither in the UK nor the EU - it is a self-governing British Crown dependency. However, it is part of the EU customs territory, which allows free trade in various goods between the Isle and EU members.

Manx law is also closely based on UK legislation and relevant EU food safety regulations.

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