Food supplies across the UK could be in serious danger, whatever kind of Brexit deal Britain ends up with – and councils need to be ready to deal with the problems.

This is the warning from a panel of food policy specialists.

The specialists, from the City University of London, the University of Sussex and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), say risks could including higher prices, reduced availability, lower standards and food safety and delays at borders.

They also warn of the possibility of riots or public disorder – as have happened with food shortages in the past.

So they say councils need to start drawing up contingency plans now.

The experts advise them to set up “food resilience teams" to assess the risk Brexit poses to provision and supply in their particular areas.

The experts’ report has been sent to every council in the UK. It suggests the food resilience teams should map the existing food systems in their region and assess where the risks and potential disruptions may lie.

Tony Lewis, head of policy at CIEH, said: "Local authorities have been asking us for practical advice on how to prepare for a food Brexit. This document contains that advice."

And Prof Tim Lang, of the Centre for Food Policy at City University of London, added: "Setting up food resilience teams is something practical local authorities can do."

Experts have already pointed out that a no-deal Brexit will have the biggest impact on food, but the report warns that every Brexit scenario will affect the food system in some way.

And councils have agreed that some preparation for food supply after Brexit is needed, according to the document.

Some food companies are already anticipating problems. Premier Foods has begun stockpiling raw materials in the run-up to Brexit – fearing gridlock at UK ports.

The firm, which owns Bisto, Oxo, Mr Kipling cakes and Ambrosia puddings, said it was taking steps "in the absence of certainty over the arrangements for the UK's departure from the EU".

The company expects to spend up to £10 million on the preparations.

To Rachael Rodway, who chairs Carlisle Food Bank, this is a sign that the poorest in society are going to feel the effects most sharply.

“If the big suppliers and big manufacturers of convenience foods are sufficiently concerned to start stockpiling, then as night follows day, prices will go up,” she predicts.

“Inevitably food is going to get more expensive and people aren’t going to be as generous.

“There will be runs on items – and if there runs on anything people won’t be donating as much.”

However a Government spokesman has offered reassurances.

She said: "As we leave the EU we want consumers to be confident that food has been produced to a high standard, and due to a trade deal with no tariffs or quotas there should be no sudden increase in food prices.

"Additionally we will not water down our high food safety and animal welfare standards as a result of any future free trade agreements.

"The UK has a high degree of food security built on access to diverse sources of supply as well as domestic production.

"This will continue to be the case whether we leave the EU with or without a deal."