UK officials conspire with Trump to force feed us chlorinated chicken
04 December 2019
Would you be happy to buy chlorine washed chicken? No? Nor would I. But leaked papers from secret trade talks between the US and UK show that both governments have been discussing how best to sell factory farmed chicken like this to ‘sceptical’ consumers like you and me.
The minutes even show US officials promising their UK counterparts they will "share their public lines on chlorine-washed chicken to help inform the media narrative around the issue.”
And under a US-UK trade deal, it wouldn’t just be chlorine-washed chicken that they’d be trying to sell us. We’d also find hormone-fed beef and pork, and fruit and vegetables with higher levels of pesticide residues on the shelves when we go shopping.
US vs UK food standards
The reason behind this is that the US takes a very different approach to risk than we do here in the UK (and across the EU). The rules and regulations protecting animal welfare and food safety here are based on things needing to be proved safe before they can be sold. In the US things are assumed to be safe until damage or harm is proved.
The US is clear that they doesn't accept the need for the kind of food standards we have here – and that they view them as barriers to trade. The leaked trade papers show that they want them lowered. And that any standards there are should be voluntary, and left to big business to oversee. There would be enormous pressure on the UK to accept these things in negotiating a trade deal with the US. And this would mean huge changes to the way that food is currently produced and sold here.
Labelling is not a 'trade barrier'
We could possibly take some comfort in the fact that we could check the labels on the food we buy, and make sure that we are at least informed. Except that the US doesn't believe that labelling food is a good thing either. In the same way that they’re not very happy about tobacco products containing warning labels, the leaked trade talk documents show that they’re sceptical about labelling food with things like sugar content. They’d really rather we didn’t know and just dutifully bought things in ignorance.
And they would like US producers to be able to market things like Cornish Pasties, Abroath Smokies and Stilton Cheese, that currently have protected status as local specialities, to be able to use these same names. This would threaten the livelihood of many small producers here as well as likely reduce the quality of those special products.
A US-UK trade deal will open the door to US industrial scale farms and food processing companies and give them a huge amount of power. It will threaten our animal welfare and food standards, and our small producers, and reduce the quality of the food that we buy. And it will mean that if we don’t want to buy chlorine-washed chicken, then that’ll just be too bad.
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