US farmers are demanding hormone-pumped beef and chlorine-washed chicken are included in any post-Brexit trade deal.
Plans for deals with the US mean the UK market could be opened up to trade from American farms which are subject to lower standards of production.
The current UK guidelines for meat are covered by strict EU food safety regulations but in the States rules are less stringent.
But the president of the American National Farmers Union, Roger Johnson, slammed the claims US meat posed a health risk as ‘fear-mongering’.
As head of an organisation that represents around 200,000 US farms, Johnson told the BBC that US rules were of a ‘different’ standard, rather than a lower one.
‘I think it is fair to say that the standards that we follow allow for more rapid scientific advancement, that a more cautionary approach (from the EU) means that scientific advances are going to happen more slowly,’ he said.
‘The trade negotiations need to figure out a way to allow both of these standards to be used and in a way that is honest and truthful – and let consumers choose.’
Johnson said clear labelling would allow consumers to make informed decisions.
‘There’s a lot of fear-mongering that happens around these kinds of things: ‘Oh my god, we don’t want to be eating chlorine, that’s a gas that kills people’,’ he said.
‘You know what – water is a liquid that drowns people; it doesn’t mean we don’t drink it.’
In January Labour MP Kerry McCarthy, head of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Agroecology, said there were ‘serious concerns’ that a badly negotiated deal ‘could trigger a race to the bottom in terms of standards and ability of our own farmers to compete’.
Environment Secretary Michel Gove told the BBC at the time that Britain will not ‘dilute our high environmental standards or our animal welfare standards in the pursuit of a trade deal’.