UK needs to embrace chlorinated chicken, says Trump spokesperson ahead of Brexit trade talks

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump during the annual Nato heads of governmen

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump during the annual Nato heads of government summit. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The US ambassador to Britain has said that British farmers need to embrace chlorinated chicken, ahead of Brexit talks between Donald Trump and Boris Johnson's teams.

The government has repeatedly vowed not to weaken food standards as part of a trade deal with the US with environment secretary Theresa Villiers saying that the UK would "not be importing chlorinated chicken" just weeks ago.

But the row has heated up with US ambassador Woody Johnson writing to The Sunday Times insisting that the modified meat and poultry should be accepted by Britain.

"These products should absolutely be included in a US-UK free trade agreement that will create new markets for farmers from both countries and offer more choices to British and American consumers." he said, calling on the UK food standards agency to "recommend" the products.

He continued: "When it comes to antimicrobial washes, the European Food Safety Authority agrees they are the most effective and economical way to fight food-borne illness, campylobacter in particular. This is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK and most Britons contract it from contaminated chicken.

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"In fact, your own Food Standards Agency has already approved antimicrobial washes to stop food poisoning in pre-washed salads sold across the UK. Perhaps it should recommend including chicken in this treatment.

"Millions of Britons visit America every year and I would wager most eat chicken while there. Ask them and I am sure they will tell you that American agricultural products are safe, nutritious and delicious".

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A House of Lords report in 2017 warned that "the greatest threat" to welfare standards would be "UK farmers competing against cheap, imported food from countries that produce to lower standards than the UK".

"The government's wish for the UK to become a global leader in free trade is not necessarily compatible with its desire to maintain high animal welfare standards," the House of Lords subcommittee on EU Energy and Environment found.

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