Chlorinated chicken will stay off the menu in the UK after Brexit amid fears American farm produce is made to lower standards
Trade Secretary is to publish a blueprint for trade talks with the US on MondayChlorinated chicken will not be imported into the UK after Brexit, ministers said‘Opening our ports to food’ which would be ‘illegal to produce here’ would be insaneIt would be ‘morally bankrupt’, warned the NFU’s Minette Batters, this week
Chlorinated chicken will not be imported into the UK after Brexit, ministers have said.
Trade Secretary Liz Truss is to publish a blueprint for trade talks with the United States on Monday.
Campaigners have warned against allowing in American farm produce, which they say is produced to lower standards.
But last night sources said ministers had agreed there will be no relaxation of animal welfare standards – effectively ruling out chlorinated chicken, which has acquired totemic status in the row over a trade deal with the US.
Trade Secretary Liz Truss (pictured on February 14) is to publish a blueprint for trade talks with the United States about allowing in farm produce, on Monday
A senior minister told the Daily Mail that the decision over chlorinated chicken was partly because of hostile public opinion but primarily due to the potential impact on British farmers and the country’s animal welfare standards.
‘It’s not a health issue, it’s an animal welfare issue,’ the source said. ‘We are not lowering standards and that’s that.’
The decision will cheer farmers who have warned that allowing in food produced to lower standards will wreck British agriculture.
Campaigners claim that the US practice of giving chicken a chlorinated wash to remove harmful bacteria can compensate for poor hygiene and welfare standards on farms, allowing American producers to undercut their rivals.
Minette Batters, from farming union NFU, warned this week that ‘opening our ports, shelves and fridges to food which would be illegal to produce here would not only be morally bankrupt, it would be the work of the insane’.
Environment minister Zac Goldsmith said Mrs Batters was right about the principles but wrong about the Government’s policy.
‘To impose high standards on our farmers, only to undercut them with low standard imports would be wrong on every level, and there is no argument about that,’ Lord Goldsmith said.
But Government sources last night cautioned that ministers were not proposing a blanket ban on cheap American food.
One pointed out that, while the Tory manifesto talked about ‘safeguarding high standards of animal welfare’ in any deal, it was silent on issues such as genetically-modified crops, which are produced on an industrial scale in the US.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is said to have underlined the importance of removing barriers to its farm produce during talks with Miss Truss earlier this week. A formal response to the UK’s proposals is not expected for a fortnight.
British farmers and consumer groups argue it masks poor animal welfare conditions that would be illegal in this country (stock image). It would be ‘morally bankrupt’, warned the NFU’s Minette Batters, this week
It comes as Boris Johnson’s chief Europe adviser David Frost prepares for the opening of trade talks with the EU on Monday.
Mr Frost and members of his 40-strong Taskforce Europe team, will travel to Brussels for four days of talks with the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
Yesterday it emerged the two sides will divide into 11 working groups working in parallel in a bid to speed up the process. But they remain far apart on key issues, including legal oversight, fishing and the EU’s demand that Britain should continue to follow its rules after the transition period expires at the end of this year.
And the agenda revealed they cannot even agree on terminology – with the EU demanding talks on a ‘level playing field’, while the UK refers to ‘open and fair competition’. But it was agreed that the talks will be conducted in English, with Brussels agreeing to pay translation costs if Mr Barnier wishes to speak in French.
Talks will alternate between Brussels and London, with five rounds pencilled in ahead of a ‘high-level summit’ in June when Mr Johnson will decide if it is worth continuing with them.
But France’s Europe minister Amelie de Montchalin warned yesterday: ‘We cannot let our level of ambition be affected by what I would call artificial deadlines. If the UK decides to shorten the negotiating period, it will be the UK’s responsibility.’