‘If there was something wrong with it our federal inspection systems would not be allowing us to use that’
The head of the US farming lobby said that the UK would have to accept chlorinated chicken as part of a post-Brexit US trade deal – arguing there was “no scientific basis” to concerns about the procedure.
Zippy Duvall, who heads up the American Farm Bureau and is himself a poultry farmer, told the BBC that his members would not accept a trade deal with the UK that includes meat washed with chlorine.
His intervention comes after Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said on Tuesday that the UK is the “first in line” for a trade deal with the United States.
‘We treat our water with chlorine’
The farming lobbyist was asked by the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme whether there was scope for chlorinated chicken to be removed from a trade deal.
He replied: “To have a trade treaty and not discuss agriculture would be turning your back on rural America and that’s where a big part of our population lives.”
He defended the procedure, arguing that regulators would not allow it to happen if it was unsafe.
He said: “You know, here in America we treat our water with chlorine.
“There is no scientific basis that says that washing poultry with a chlorine wash just to be safe of whatever pathogens might be on that chicken as it was prepared for the market, should be taken away.
“If there was something wrong with it our federal inspection systems would not be allowing us to use that.”
Critics say that the procedure is often used to make up for dubious welfare standards further up the supply chain.
‘The choice of what food they want to eat’
Mr Duvall said that reducing the tariffs between the UK and US would give consumers a better choice in both countries.
“A lot of our farmers don’t understand why other countries implement tariffs on our products but then they don’t want us to implement any tariffs on our end, so we need to level that playing field, tear down all those barriers and let our people be able to make the choice of what food they want to eat and where it’s grown at,” he said.
His comments come after Mr Bolton argued that the countries could do individual sectoral deals that would build up to a comprehensive trade agreement during a trip to London this week.
He said: “The ultimate end result is a comprehensive trade agreement covering all trading goods and services,”
“But to get to that you could do it sector by sector, and you can do it in a modular fashion. In other words, you can carve out some areas where it might be possible to reach a bilateral agreement very quickly, very straightforwardly.”
‘There’s no quid pro quo on any of these issues’
It is unclear how these deals would fare in the US House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Democrats, who have to approve any trade deals before they become law.
Endorsing the UK decision to leave the EU, Mr Bolton said “Britain’s success in successfully exiting the European Union will be a statement about democratic rule and constitutional government,”
“That’s important for Britain, but it’s important for the United States, too. So we see a successful exit as being very much in our interest, and there’s no quid pro quo on any of these issues.”