There is & # 39; no problem & # 39; with chlorinated chicken and there is no scientific reason to ban it after Brexit, a senior government adviser claims.
In the US, some chicken carcasses are washed in chlorine – a chemical used to make bleach – to destroy bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
But chlorine washing was banned in the European Union in 1997 because of concerns that farmers would not try so hard to prevent contamination while the animals were alive.
After leaving the EU, the UK may have the freedom to change its laws so that companies can start importing chlorinated birds that are cheaper to buy.
Sir Ian Boyd, Senior Advisor at the Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), said there are no indications that the cheaper chicken is harmful to human health.
Some US meat processing plants rinse chicken carcasses mixed with chlorine – used to make bleach – to kill bacteria that can cause food poisoning, but practice is prohibited in the EU because it threatens animal welfare (stock image)
He told Sky News: & # 39; From a health point of view there is really no problem with chlorinated chicken.
& # 39; It is about production processes and animal welfare, and that is a value-based choice that people have to make.
& # 39; My opinion is that we should be able to make that choice.
& # 39; But it is up to people like me to ensure that we explain as clearly as possible what the consequences of different choices are for people. & # 39;
The possibility that chlorinated chicken reaches the British shelves has fueled a heated debate in recent months as farmers say it is undermining animal welfare.
Chicken can cause food poisoning through bacteria such as salmonella and listeria, which are more often present on animals raised in poor conditions.
According to the National Farmers & # 39; Union (NFU), farmers in the UK and the EU must address the problem of bacterial contamination at the root.
This means that chickens stay healthy while being bred and are more expensive than keeping them on batteries and disinfecting their bodies after they are slaughtered.
That is why chicken meat from farms with higher standards is more expensive than possibly imported from more intensive producers in the US.
Chlorinated chicken is rinsed in water containing the disinfectant – which is also added to drinking water in the UK – in approximately 10 percent of the processing plants in the US, according to the National Chicken Council.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured on a visit to a farm near Newport, South Wales in July) has said in the past that chlorine-washing chicken is a & # 39; no-brainer & # 39; , Sky News reported
CHANNEL 4 RESEARCH FIND & # 39; SERIOUS HYGIENE MATTERS & # 39; WITH CHICKEN PLANTS IN THE USA
A Channel 4 Dispatches documentary in June revealed serious health and safety issues in American chicken factories that want to send meat to Britain after Brexit.
Donald Trump's administration insists that Britain is expected to open its stores for American food, including & # 39; chlorinated chicken & # 39 ;, as part of a free trade agreement.
The American government, farmers and processors insist that their chicken is completely safe.
However, an undercover investigation in an American processing plant of the largest poultry producer in America, Tyson Foods, revealed a number of hygiene problems.
The program found piles of chicken on conveyor belts for a long time or stacked in a way that could lead to cross-contamination; chicken entrails on the floor; blocked drains; and supervisors touch raw chicken with their hands.
Ron Spellman, a former meat inspector and current Assistant Secretary General of the European Food and Meat Inspectors Association, said he was surprised by poor standards.
& # 39; I didn't think they were working on such low standards in the US, & # 39; he said. & # 39; From what we have seen, it seems that the EU is right, it seems that the US uses much lower standards than in Britain and the EU. & # 39;
When asked if he thought these were acceptable standards for British consumers, he said: 'Absolutely not, no. Certainly not. This would be a major step backwards for us. & # 39;
Tyson Foods said: & # 39; Our factories only work in the constant presence of US government inspectors who work with our own food safety staff to ensure that we produce good food that is safe to eat. & # 39;
In March, NFU President Minette Batters said: “It is imperative that future trade agreements, including a possible deal with the US, do not allow the import of food produced to standards that are lower than those of British farmers. .
& # 39; British appreciate and demand the high standards of animal welfare, environmental protection and food safety that our own farmers adhere to.
& # 39; These leading standards should not be sacrificed in the pursuit of rushed trade agreements. & # 39;
In a report published in 2017, members of the EU Energy and Environment subcommittee of the House of Lords said that market competition would jeopardize animal welfare.
The subcommittee wrote in Brexit: Farm Animal Welfare: & our evidence strongly suggests that after Brexit, the greatest threat to animal welfare standards would come from British farmers competing with cheap, imported food from countries that produce lower standards than the UK. .
& Unless consumers are willing to pay for higher welfare products, UK farmers could not become competitive and welfare standards in the UK could come under pressure.
"It may be difficult to reconcile the government's desire to make the UK a world leader in free trade with its desire to maintain high quality standards for agro-food products in the UK."
Premier Boris Johnson has made washing of chlorinated chicken a & # 39; no-brainer & # 39; mentioned, Sky reported.
And the US ambassador to the UK, Woody Johnson, has suggested that the products should be included in a post-Brexit trade agreement between the two countries.
Sir Ian added that he believed that hormone-treated beef should also be offered for sale in the UK.
Bovine beef fed growth hormones is banned in the EU due to concerns about links to cancer, but Sir Ian said the amount of hormones used is small.
He added: & # 39; The chance that it will have a biological effect on us is almost infinitely small. & # 39;
Sir Ian says goodbye to his position as chief scientists at DEFRA after seven years in this position.
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