‘Meat like this should not exist in the world and certainly should not be imported into our country’

The Staff Canteen

The hospitality industry has reacted across social media including Michlein-starred chefs and food critics, as it is revealed Britain is prepared to permit imports of chlorinated chicken from the US.

The 'Dual tariff' regime, which was adopted at a ministerial meeting on Monday and will be put to the US as part of the ongoing negotiations over a post-Brexit trade deal, would see different levels of duty on imported foods, depending on whether they comply with UK welfare standards.

According to The Telegraph, ‘Britain is prepared to permit imports of chlorinated chicken from the US but will slap high tariffs on cheaply-produced food in order to minimise the impact on British farmers’.

Chlorinated chicken is poultry meat that has been washed with chlorine. After slaughter, the chickens are rinsed with antimicrobial chlorine wash to protect consumers from food-borne disease.

The practice of chlorine washing chicken is banned in the UK, UK producers use a “farm to fork” approach. This approach requires sanitary practices to be used all along the production chain to ensure that food sold to consumers is safe.

The higher hygiene and animal welfare standards used when following this approach work to help combat the spread of bacteria, meaning chlorine washes are not necessary.

According to the Soil Association, the consumption of chlorine itself is not an issue. Whether it works and the impact on animal welfare are the main talking points.

On its website it states: "Research from Southampton University found that disease-causing bacteria like listeria and salmonella ‘remain active’ after chlorine washing. Chlorine washing just makes it impossible to detect the bacteria in the lab, giving the false impression that the bacteria have been killed when they haven’t." 

Adding: "High levels of hygiene and animal welfare promote a healthy farm environment, eliminating the need to wash chicken with chlorine. The practice shouldn’t be necessary. Which raises the question - what lower standards in the production process does chlorine washing aim to patch over?"

Taking to twitter, Tommy Banks, chef owner of Michelin-starred The Black Swan at Oldstead said: “What a disgrace!! Ethically and environmentally terrible! Meat like this should not exist in the world and certainly should not be imported into our country. I really hope it will be labelled appropriately and through education people will not buy it.”

Chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef have become one of the main issues of US-UK trade talks. The Government accepts such food is safe, but 'the reason American farmers wash chicken carcasses in chlorine is because they are battery farmed, making them more prone to disease'.

In response to this technique, Marina O'Loughlin, restaurant critic for The Sunday Times, tweeted: “Just for absolute clarity those telling me they don't mind chlorinated chicken: it's chlorinated to disinfect the revoltingly diseased birds caused by horrendous battery farming practices: blinded, atrophied, static in their own faeces. Yum, eh?”

British farmers have argued it would not be fair to allow foreign imports of produce that would undercut on prices here because of the fact that 'they are produced in a way that is banned in the UK'.

Minette Batters, the President of the National Farmers Union, told The Telegraph: "It's a significant step forwards that the Government has recognised the damage it would do to our farmers, who have to abide by the highest rung of the ladder, if we import food that wouldn't even get on the lowest rung of the ladder when it comes to food standards.

"But we would call on the Government once again to accept the need for an independent food and farming standards commission to look at the proposals for trade deals.”

There is concern that foods using techniques banned in Britain such as chlorinated chicken will not be labelled sufficiently, therefore denying consumers the choice when buying these products.

Tommy added: “I feel that it should be disclosed on packaging/menus. In the same way that health warnings are on cigarettes.”

The National Farmers' Union is running a food standards petition asking the UK government to ensure all food imports are produced to the same high standards as British farmers.

It has already had over 500,000 signatures and states: “Our Government should ensure that all food eaten in the UK – whether in our homes, schools, hospitals, restaurants or from shops – is produced in a way that matches the high standards of production expected of UK farmers. Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of food security and traceability.”

Read the full story on the Telegraph

Image credit: The Grocer 

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 5th June 2020

‘Meat like this should not exist in the world and certainly should not be imported into our country’