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UK pressure mounts to strengthen ban on US chlorinated chicken imports

Lily Canter
·2-min read
Protestors voiced their opposition to the import of chlorinated chicken during US President Donald Trump's controversial three-day state visit to the UK in June 2019. Credit: Getty.
Protestors voiced their opposition to the import of chlorinated chicken during US president Donald Trump's controversial three-day state visit to the UK in June 2019. Photo: Getty.

Consumer champion Which? is calling on MPs to strengthen the ban on chlorinated chicken and hormone-boosted beef imports.

On Monday (12 October) a crunch vote will take place on whether to amend the Agriculture Bill to ensure future food imports comply with UK standards.

The amendments put forward by the House of Lords come as the government races to secure post-Brexit trade deals with the United States and other countries.

To date the UK government has resisted calls for legislation to protect food standards, due to pre-existing law banning the import of food produced to a lower standard.

But the government has yet to respond to Which?’s cross-party letter asking for assurance that the ban will not be removed through secondary legislation without a vote in parliament.

In the latest Which? survey, 94% of UK consumers said it was important existing standards were maintained, while three-quarters said it was very important.

Around three quarters said they would be uncomfortable eating chlorinated chicken, while eight in 10 said they would be uncomfortable eating beef and consuming milk where cows had been given growth hormones used to increase production.

READ MORE: Pound falls on report UK government could quit Brexit trade talks next week

The consumer champion also surveyed more than 6,000 members of the general public about their views on maintaining food standards. More than 75% said they were concerned that the UK had not ruled out lifting the bans on chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef and were worried these bans could be removed without proper scrutiny in parliament.

Sue Davies, head of consumer protection and food policy at Which?, said: “Our research shows food standards are a deal breaker for consumers in trade deals — and many people are concerned by the government’s failure to guarantee that the ban on products like chlorine-washed and hormone-treated beef will stay in place.

“Consumers have signalled that iron-clad legislation is needed to ensure two decades of progress on food standards is not sacrificed to secure a trade deal — and they now expect their MPs to make it happen.”

More than 200,000 people have already joined Which?’s Save Our Food Standards campaign signing a petition calling on the government to uphold food standards.

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