UK ‘will not dilute food standards’ for US trade deal

The UK will not compromise on animal welfare and environmental standards in any trade agreement reached with the US, according to Britain’s Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

In an interview with the BBC today, July 26, Michael Gove rejected claims the UK would import chlorinated chicken from the US after controversy arose when International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, called on the media to stop its “obsession” with the product.

Concerns have emerged that a bilateral agreement with the US would reduce overall UK food standards, leading to the import of GM foods and meat that has been treated with synthetic hormones – as well as chlorinated chicken.

Critics argue that chlorinated chicken is dangerous because it has the potential to lower hygiene standards at abattoirs – this is where it is adopted as a default form of decontamination when washing chickens after they have been eviscerated.

Gove told the BBC: “I’ve already made it perfectly clear, and indeed this is something on which all members of the government are agreed, that we are not going to dilute our high animal welfare standards or our high environmental standards in pursuit of any trade deal.

The trade secretary quite rightly pointed out that, of course, this issue is important – but we mustn’t concentrate just on this one issue when we look at the huge potential that a trade deal can bring.

Open Britain – a campaign group against a hard Brexit – has called on Fox to consume chlorinated chicken on live TV, if he wants to demonstrate that he trusts the product.

Executive Director, James McGrory, said on Monday: “The proof of the chicken is in the eating and if Dr. Fox think it’s safe, he should put his money where his mouth is. If he doesn’t, he’s just chicken.”