A Tory minister side-stepped a question on whether he would support chlorinated chicken appearing on UK supermarket shelves following a post-Brexit trade deal with America, but suggested he might eat the product if it did.
James Brokenshire was questioned by LBC presenter Nick Ferrari after the environment secretary George Eustice appeared to leave the door open for chlorinated-washed chicken and hormone-injected beef to be allowed to be consumed by Brits in the event of a Trump deal between the UK and US.
Asked by Ferrari whether he would eat the food, the security minister responded: “Er, I want to ensure our standards are maintained. If that is consistent Nick with the environmental standards that we have over food, then, you know, we have some of the highest standards in the world around all of this, whether it be it EU or whether it be the American…”
Pressed again, Ferrari asked: “Would you eat acid-washed chicken, minister?”
“I may well have eaten it in the past when I’ve been in America as it is,” claimed the politician.
“But would you want it here domestically?” enquired the presenter.
Brokenshire said he was “not a food expert”, but did not appear to rule out buying it if it did appear on supermarket shelves.
He said: “I may eat it, I may enjoy it as you and I both do. But ultimately I want to know the right standards are being upheld here.
“And therefore as we approach these trade discussions with the US or the EU, that we’re not going to compromise on the high standards that we maintain.
“So you and I when we go out and have our chicken Balti or whatever it may be Nick, we can be confident in the food that we eat.”
Appearing on the BBC the minister suggested it should not be a red line for the Americans in trade talks.
He said: “I’m not really sure that the Americans should be furious about some of these things.
“Because if you look, for instance, at the poultry sector, very few American producers actually use chlorine, they tend to use lactic acid.
“They use other disinfectors such as lactic acids. And you know, there’s room for a sensible discussion here because we also use lactic acids on some species, notably on beef. We don’t use it on poultry.”
He added there were “discussions to be had” to find a compromise on the matter to secure a trade deal with America.