CHEAP meat imported from the US as part of a potential future trade deal could mean British consumers "not knowing what they're getting", Scotland's Rural Economy Secretary has said.

It has been suggested that a post-Brexit agreement between the UK and the US could mean food regulatory standards are lowered.

Addressing the issue at Holyrood, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said the Scottish Government would "resist vigorously" any attempts to undermine current standards.

He told MSPs: "The Scottish Government is extremely concerned that any proposed free trade deal might undermine our high quality regulatory standards.

"I raised this with UK Ministers this week when we met to make clear just how important it will be for these standards to be maintained in future trade deals.

"I made clear that this Government will resist vigorously any attempts to undermine current standards."

Asked by SNP MSP Emma Harper about "reported plans by the US to introduce a system of self-regulation and policing for slaughterhouses", Ewing said cheap imports could undermine the meat sector.

"I think this is an issue that is of great concern around the country with our beef sector, beef farmers, producers and with slaughterhouses," he said.

"We do in Scotland produce meat to the highest standards and if we're to import meat from other countries, in the Americas broadly, that do not have the same standards of provenance of animal hygiene, of official veterinary supervision, and CCTV checking of the processes at abattoirs, if we don't have those standards, consumers don't know what they're getting quite frankly and this is of huge concern.

"And if these imports are flooding the market, cheap imports from countries that don't observe our high standards, then this could well undermine the meat sector in Scotland.

"Therefore, this is one of the most important Brexit issues which must be resolved."