‘Prioritise food safety’ says butcher amid chlorine-washed chicken spat

Government must put food safety first in trade talks for Brexit and beyond, amid a dispute that imports of US chicken rinsed in chlorine could undermine British producers, a butcher has warned. 

Sam Wass, director of e-commerce butchery business the Great British Meat Company, has thrown his weight behind food safety following a heated government dispute over whether Britain should import US chicken washed in chlorine. He called on government to “prioritise food safety” during trade talks.

“The noises from politicians about what will happen to food safety and welfare standards post-Brexit are very confusing,” said Wass.

“On the one hand they say we will maintain our high welfare standards, but on the other hand we are looking to do trade deals with countries that will inevitably encourage cheaper meat imports with lower welfare standards.

“British farmers are the ones likely to suffer the most. They maintain some of the highest welfare standards in the world, producing the safest and tastiest meat in the world, but that does not give the cheapest meat.

“If we ask the British public to choose standards over price, I am confident they will choose standards, as I don’t think the demand for hormone-fed beef or chlorine-washed chicken is huge at the moment.”
Wass’ comment comes after a House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Committee report concluded that the government’s wish to become a global leader in free trade is not compatible with its desire to maintain high animal welfare standards.

The Lords report, published on 25 July, urged the government to include high animal welfare standards in all post-Brexit trade agreements, stating there was no reason for standards to slip once Britain has left the EU.

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