Liam Fox says questions over chlorine washed chicken are a ‘media obsession’ as he visits Washington

Liam Fox, the trade secretary, has accused the media of being obsessed with safety concerns about chlorine-washed chicken being sold in Britain as part of a potential trade deal with the US after Brexit.

The controversy overshadowed the first day of Fox’s trip to Washington, amid worries that a trade deal with America could lead to imports of food with lower safety standards.

“In a debate which should be about how we make our contribution to global liberalisation and the increased prosperity of both the UK, the US and our trading partners, the complexities of those – the continuity agreements, the short-term gains that we may make, the opportunities we have and our ability to work jointly towards both a free-trade agreement and WTO [World Trade Organisation] liberalisation – the British media are obsessed with chlorine-washed chickens, a detail of the very end-stage of one sector of a potential free trade agreement. I say no more than that,” he said.

The British Poultry Council rejects the notion of importing chlorine-washed chickens as part of a makeweight in trade negotiations with the US. We are proud to produce wholesome, nutritious and affordable food for the UK population. We also know that British consumers trust nothing other than British chicken.

Richard Griffiths, Chief Executive, British Poultry Council said: “The UK Poultry meat industry stands committed to feeding the nation with nutritious food and any compromise on standards will not be tolerated. A secure post-Brexit deal must be about Britain’s future food security and safety. This is a matter of our reputation on the global stage.

“Poultry meat is the only livestock sector that is capable of quickly scaling-up production to support increased self-sufficiency of the UK.

“Now is the time when Government’s support towards British farmers and food production is needed most. We urge the Government to show confidence in our world-leading food safety standards by backing British farming and cherishing its successes.”

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