Rat hairs, pus and a side of salmonella - what could go into pancakes after post-Brexit trade deals

PUBLISHED: 13:07 05 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:33 05 March 2019

MPs, Lords and members of the press take part in pancake races outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

MPs, Lords and members of the press take part in pancake races outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

This could be your last chance to enjoy pancake day before Brexit - and before a US trade deal potentially impacts food standards and the ingredients involved.

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Analysis by For our Future’s Sake shows that the ingredients needed to make the delicious treat - such as milk, flour and eggs - could be subject to lower US food regulations, which include increased risks of milk with puss, flour with rat hairs and eggs with salmonella.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative has set out its negotiating objectives for a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK. One of their main demands is that negotiators “establish a mechanism to remove expeditiously unwarranted barriers that block the export of U.S. food and agricultural products in order to obtain more open, equitable, and reciprocal market access”. This would allow the US to freely export produce that is made to lower standards than are currently allowed in the UK, or anywhere in the EU.

The campaigners warn that the following could impact pancakes in the future:

President Trump Meets With British PM Theresa May At The White House. Picture:  Christopher Furlong/Getty ImagesPresident Trump Meets With British PM Theresa May At The White House. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

• Pus in Milk - In the United States, the controversial hormone rBST is given to dairy cows. rBST has been shown to be damaging to the health of cows, and a European Union report on animal welfare said it was “associated with serious mastitis”, which is an inflammation of the udder which leads to puss in their milk. Yum.

• Rat hairs in flour - Whilst the FDA’s “Defect Levels Handbook” - which regulates the amount of foreign bodies allowed in American food, also makes for queasy reading. It is legal in the US for up to 1 rat hair in every 50 grams of flour, and it’s legal for up to 75 insect fragments per 50 grams. Bon appetite.

• Salmonella in eggs - In 2018, nearly 207 million eggs had to be recalled in the US after 22 people fell ill with salmonella. The US reports around 380 deaths a year because of salmonella, whereas the UK had no deaths between 2005 and 2015. Furthermore, US consumers are still advised to hard boil their eggs due to fears that soft boiling them will lead to the disease.

A Downing Street spokeswoman last week denied reports about food standards, claiming: “We have always been very clear that we will not lower our food standards as part of a future trading agreement.”

But Bella Frimpong, from the For our Future’s Sake campaign, warned: “Pancake Day is celebrated across the UK - but in the event of a US trade dDeal, the delicious treat we all enjoy could have some unwanted toppings.

“The Brexit elite have promised time and time again that food standards wouldn’t be lowered after Brexit - but this looks like another one of their broken promises. That’s why millions of people want a People’s Vote.

“I’m looking to potentially the last ever pancake day where I know what I’ll be eating - and yes, I have my pancakes with lemon and sugar.”

“All of this will concern UK’s consumers already, without the icing on the (pan)cake; the US government is opposed to Country of Origin Labelling (COOL), In the likely event this is forbidden in a future trade deal, consumers won’t know whether the ingredients they’re buying are American or not.”

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