Government considers UK poultry concerns over TTIP

The government was yesterday urged to protect the interests of the UK poultry industry during Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.

Roger Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, acknowledged that TTIP could bring “huge opportunities” for the food sector, but added: “I hope the whole House will agree with me in urging caution before we get carried away, as these opportunities should not come at the expense of the great efforts that UK food businesses, particularly poultry meat producers, have made in the improvement of the sustainability, quality and standards of production here in the UK.”

The debate centres around different poultry practices between the EU and US. Poultry carcases in the US are dipped in chlorine to kill bacteria such as campylobacter and salmonella. This practice is banned in the EU, where a more expensive ‘farm to fork’ practice is adopted to ensure such bacteria are not present throughout all the production stages. Williams told the House the two production practices should not be seen as “equivalent”, and the equivalence within the negotiations was cause for “tremendous concern”.

Williams echoed worries in the poultry industry that a TTIP deal could undermine the superiority of the UK production process.

In October 2014 the British Poultry Council (BPC) shared the results of an industry survey showing 82.5% of its members were concerned about the impact TTIP negotiations would have on the poultry industry.

Speaking at the time, Chris Potter from the BPC said: “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 that could mean making relaxed decisions on food safety.”

Williams also said the government should make it clear to the US that free trade was a “two-way street”, and should mean “real opportunities for UK producers to export significant volumes to the US”.

The debate was welcomed by food and farming minister George Eustice, who said sanitary requirements for poultry exports to the US would be set out in an export health certificate, which would be negotiated only once discussions on equivalence had been concluded.

However, Eustice insisted the UK would not approve a deal that would undermine UK food safety practices.

Eustice claimed a deal between the EU and the US could add as much as £10 billion annually to UK GDP, so an “ambitious” TTIP deal was a priority for the government.

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