EXCLUSIVE: Poultry sector raises safety concerns over TTIP

Members of the UK poultry industry are concerned that trade negotiations under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and US could undermine food safety.

The British Poultry Council (BPC) has shared the results of its trade survey into business confidence with Meatinfo.co.uk, showing 82.5% are concerned about the impact TTIP negotiations will have on the poultry industry.

Poultry in the US is dipped in chlorine to kill bacteria such as campylobacter and salmonella. This is a practise which is banned in the EU where a more expensive farm to fork practise is adopted to ensure such bacteria are not present.

Cees Vermeere, secretary general of the Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade in the EU countries (AVEC) explained why the EU practise was preferable: The EU 'farm to fork' policy may be seen as very sustainable since you try to control and minimise the food safety risks from the beginning of the chain and then also reduce the potential burden from the farm to the environment or neighborhood. As an example, according to European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), broiler meat may account for 20% to 30% of the campylobacteriosis in humans in the EU, while 50% to 80% of human campylobacteriosis may be attributed to the chicken reservoir. Therefore interventions to control better and reduce pathogens needs to be taken as early as possible in the value chain.

TTIP negotiations have reached their seventh phase however no agreement has been met on poultry products. Trade body Trans Atlantic Consumber Dialogue (TACD), which represents organisations on both sides of the Atlantic, said it is not an acceptable approach to have a mutual recognition of standards whereby one party must accept products deemed in compliance under the other partys regulations, and when an agreement cannot be met on certain products, they should be excluded from the TTIP.

Chris Potter from the BPC said this was a cause for concern: We are in the final stages of talks - often when bargaining takes place. We are concerned the negotiating process will create pressure to get an agreement in place which could mean making relaxed decisions on food safety.

Meanwhile the BPC survey also shows members believe that rather than focussing on one export market, there is a similar potential to export poultry meat to China, Russia, Africa and other EU countries. Moreover, half of all respondents believe that the government needs to focus on trade policy rather than promotion via trade fairs. Investment and compartmentalisation were seen as the other main critical areas to encourage exports.

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