Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to the UK, has urged the government to accept imports of American chlorinated chicken as part of a trade deal between the two countries.
In a letter published in last weekend’s Sunday Times, Johnson writes that the Food Standards Agency has approved antimicrobial washes for pre-washed salads in the UK. “Perhaps it should recommend including chicken in this treatment,” the letter states.
“When it comes to antimicrobial washes, the European Food Safety Authority agrees they are the most effective and economical way to fight foodborne illness, particularly campylobacter.
“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.”
“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.”
The ambassador’s stance is a direct challenge to Defra secretary of state Theresa Villiers, who recently pledged the government would not accept imports of food produced to less stringent standards than is required of UK producers. Chlorine washes are banned in the UK and the EU on the grounds that disinfection could cover up poor hygiene and welfare standards in the rest of the supply chain.