Michéal Martin has slammed the British Government for "playing hard and loose with food safety" after they suggested a lowering of standards after Brexit.
The Fianna Fáil leader hit out at British trade secretary Liam Fox who is reported to be looking at introducing a radical divergence between food standards in the UK and the EU in the wake of Brexit.
Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships, Mr Martin said: "First of all I think it's an extraordinary statement by Liam Fox and he will not be thanked by British consumers, because the issue around food standards, it's the consumer who calls that one.
"Anyone in food production knows that when something goes wrong on the shelf in terms of contamination or poor standards it is devastating for that particular product, it's devastating for that particular company and industry.
[quote]The one good thing about Europe is that Europe has raised standards across the board in terms of health and safety, in terms of food safety and I don't think politicians can start playing hard and loose with food safety. [/quote]
"I think the British public would revolt against any idea that leaving Europe means a reduction in food quality and food standards," he said.
Mr Martin said he believes there will still be a deal as there are "39 billion reasons there has to be a deal" adding that it would be "calamitous for Ireland" if an agreement is not reached.
"There are issues emerging around what the backstop actually means and what the definition will be," he said of the assurances around the border with Northern Ireland.
"That said the overall objective is to have as harmonious a relationship between the United Kingdom and Europe as can possibly be achieved, anything less than that is damaging for Ireland's agri-food industry, is damaging for small to medium-sized companies who export to Britain."