Authorities have been urged to ramp up contingency planning to avoid disruption to food supplies after Brexit.

A paper by the Food Research Collaboration has warned councils of the need to strengthen their planning and prepare to communicate effectively with the public after Brexit about food supply chains.

The document calls for the creation of local discussion groups to deal with risks, and also calls for clear communication with the public at times of disruption.

Gary McFarlane, Northern Ireland director of the chartered institute of environmental health (CIEH), said: “We know that many local authorities have engaged in emergency planning for Brexit. However, in some cases it appears that this planning has not included any consideration of food supplies.

“We believe this is an omission. We would urge all councils to include food in their Brexit preparations, and in so doing utilise the local food supply knowledge that exists among Environmental Health, Trading Standards and other public officials.”

The paper also highlights the need to maintain pressure on the Government to provide better information about food supply risks.

Professor Tim Lang from City, University of London said: “The current political ‘calm’ over Brexit should not lead to a lapse in preparations.

“But it does provide local authorities with an opportunity for intelligence-sharing and planning, without the distraction of Westminster upheavals or even panic.”

The research for the document was conducted by food policy experts at City, University of London, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the University of Sussex and Cardiff University and updates advice published last year.

A spokesman from Waltham Forest Council confirmed the authority has set up a working group to prepare for Brexit’s impact, including possible disruption to food supply chains and cross-border trade.

They said: “As part of this work we are reviewing information and guidance from the Government and other sources in order to mitigate any potential impacts, and ensure that we can continue to provide the services residents rely on.”

A Redbridge Council spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting our communities, residents and businesses through the various Brexit scenarios.

“We are working with councils across London, and liaising with the government, to ensure that appropriate mitigation plans are in place to address the various risks that the borough might face in the event of the different exit scenarios.”