Farming News - UK ban on US chlorinated chicken 'to continue after Brexit'

UK ban on US chlorinated chicken 'to continue after Brexit'

10 Jan 2020
Frontdesk / Livestock

Chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef will not be allowed into the UK under any trade deal with the US, the Environment Secretary has told the BBC’s Countryfile programme.

BBC Countryfiles exclusively reveals chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef will not be allowed into the UK under any trade deal with the US

In an exclusive interview, Theresa Villiers told presenter Tom Heap that the current EU ban on such imports will be carried over into UK legislation following Brexit.

Ms Villiers said: “We will not be importing chlorinated-chicken. We will not be importing hormone-treated beef. Both of those are illegal under EU law, which we are importing into our domestic system.

“There are legal barriers to their import and those are going to stay in place.”

Ms Villiers said the Government would “hold the line” in any trade negotiations with the US and would “defend our national interests and our values, including our high standards of animal welfare”.

It is the first time the Government has explicitly stated that chlorinated chicken or hormone-fed beef imports into the UK will not be allowed regardless of any new trade deal with the USA.

The statement comes after Ms Villiers’ appearance at the Oxford Farming Conference on Wednesday (08/01) in which she suggested the UK could introduce tariffs on imports of food from countries with lower food standards.

But she had stopped short of making any promises on specific standards or maintaining the current law itself.

Leaked US-UK trade documents showed the US tried to establish how far the UK would, after Brexit, detach from the EU's hard line against US farm trade methods. US officials had made a presentation and repeatedly raised the "unscientific approach the EU maintains towards Pathogen Reduction Treatments [chlorinated chicken]". The US has been in a dispute with the EU over such methods since 1997.

If the environment secretary's rejection of such key US exports is echoed in the UK's negotiating position with the US, the US Congress might also object. When similar statements were made by Michael Gove, when he was former environment secretary, in 2017, it caused a rift in cabinet with Liam Fox, who was then trade secretary .

It is a clear example of the delicate balancing act and trade-offs involved in the UK's new post-Brexit trade freedom.

The full interview with Ms Villiers will be shown on Countryfile on BBC1 on Sunday, 26th January.