The government has been told to adopt the House of Lords' recommendations on safeguarding animal welfare standards as the UK negotiates to join the Trans-Pacific trade partnership.
The new report from peers includes measures to help safeguard British animal welfare standards as the government seeks to join the 11-country Pacific trade bloc, called CPTPP.
Many members of the partnership, which includes the likes of the Australia, Canada and Japan, use methods of food production that are illegal in the UK.
Without iron-clad safeguards, farming groups fear that imports of beef, pork and chicken meat produced to lower welfare standards could find their way from that region onto UK shelves.
The report on the UK's Trans-Pacific Partnership accession produced by the Lords International Agreement Committee urges that measures should be put in place to safeguard UK production standards.
The Committee calls for the government to maintain a level playing field for UK farmers via either minimum standard requirements or conditional tariff liberalisation.
Trade negotiations must be more transparent, peers say, with texts shared with parliament three months ahead of talks. Devolved nations should also be more involved in talks.
Responding to the report, RSPCA urged the government to adopt the recommendations, or risk lower standard food imports on UK shelves.
The animal welfare charity added that there had been been 'little transparency and no engagement' from the government on the state of the trade negotiations.
“Although many of the countries use methods of production illegal in the UK, we are hoping that these recommendations will result in a far better outcome," RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said.
“We remain concerned that although the government had said it was committed to maintaining welfare standards in international trade deals, it has failed to rule out imports of products to lower welfare standards.
"To make matters worse, there is no specialist animal welfare representative on the Trade & Agriculture Commission," he added.
“Adopting the Lords’ recommended minimum standard requirements should mean the CPTPP better meets the government’s promise to maintain or improve the UK’s animal welfare standards.”