Gloucestershire farmers have raised concerns about potential changes in food standards if the UK strikes a deal with America.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has told consumers not to be afraid of eating chlorinated chicken, which is what would be imported from the US.
The practice, which involves dousing freshly slaughtered chickens in a chilled bath diluted with chlorine, has been a staple of US chicken production – and with Brexit on the horizon chlorinated chicken could be heading to the UK as part of a trade deal.
The US National Chicken Council states that bathing the chicken in chlorine is crucial in the battle against salmonella, as the chemical kills a lot of food-based bacterial infections.
However, the EU doesn’t feel the same way about US chicken, having banned it 20 years ago. All that could be about to change, and farmers here in the south-west are concerned that the addition of US competition could damage their own businesses.
“The government isn’t giving us enough information,” said Elaine Williams, of Madgett’s Farm. They, alongside many other farmers, describe themselves as feeling in limbo while they wait to see if a deal in Brussels can be met.
US food handling standards are not as rigorous as EU laws and many are worried that if we allow chlorine-washed chicken into UK supermarkets then food handlers will relax their own hygiene rules.
Mrs Williams told UoGlos Live that EU food handling laws are incredibly strict and constantly changes, this has forced them to build a new stunning system whilst also ensuring that there is a registered vet on site every time they slaughter a bird.
It’s not all bad news for smaller farmers though as many predict that the British public could be unattracted to mass produced US chicken as “they won’t know where it has come from”.