UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove has ruled imports of chlorine-soaked chicken will not be permitted into Britain from the US as part of post-Brexit negotiations, overriding his trade counterpart Liam Fox who’s said to be ready to allow in shipments.
Gove replied a blatant “no” when asked by the BBC‘s Nick Robinson whether chlorine-washed chicken would be imported into the UK under trade agreements being negotiated with the US in Washington this week, headed by Fox. While chicken soaked in chlorine is allowed in the US and the practise has been deemed safe by the European Food Safety Authority, the European Union has banned such imports.
Gove is opposed to the prospect amid fears British food safety standards will be downgraded. Weekend newspaper reports suggested there was a split in the government over the issue.
“No. I made it perfectly clear, and this is something on which all members of the government are agreed”, Gove told Robinson on BBC4’s Today programme. “We are not going to dilute our high food safety standards or our high environmental standards in pursuit of any trade deal”, he said.
The British Poultry Council has also rejected the proposal and stressed the importance of backing British farmers. Other concerns under a potential trade deal with the US include the prospect of the UK allowing imports of hormone-fed beef and genetically-modified crops, which are permitted in the US.
“A secure post-Brexit deal must be about Britain’s future food security and safety”, Richard Griffiths, the CEO of the BPC, said in a statement. “This is a matter of our reputation on the global stage”, he said.
The EU banned chicken soaked in chlorine amid criticism the US uses the process to hide poor hygiene at farms and abattoirs.
“There is no health issue with that – the European Union has said that is perfectly safe”, Fox said on the BBC’s Newsnight programme. “The issue lies around some of the secondary issues of animal welfare and it’s perfectly reasonable for people to raise that but it will come much further down the road”, he said.