The Food Standards Agency has urged the UK government to begin implementing checks on food imports from the EU.

In its annual report published on Monday, the agency said it is “vital” that an inspection process is in place to prevent “unsafe food” from entering the UK.

“To enhance levels of assurance on higher-risk EU food like meat, dairy and eggs, and food and feed that has come to the UK via the EU, it is essential that improved controls are put in place,” the report reads.

The introduction of checks on EU food imports have been delayed by the UK government four times since the UK formally left the EU in January 2021.

The latest delay was announced in April 2022 and the current plan is for controls to be in place by the end of 2023.

“The longer the UK operates without assurance from the exporting country that products meet the UK’s high food and feed safety standards, the less confident we can be that we can effectively identify potential safety incidents,” the Food Standards Agency said.