UK defends against fear-mongering accusations

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Johnson said US food is "perfectly safe"
Johnson said US food is "perfectly safe"
The British Poultry Council (BPC) has hit back against the US National Farmers Union (NFU) over accusations of fear-mongering.

Speaking to the BBC last week, NFU president Roger Johnson said that US food was “perfectly safe​” despite concerns from the British meat sector over chlorine-washed poultry and hormone-treated beef.

Johnson claimed the US was more “risk-tolerant​” and argued against the idea that the above practices meant it was a lower standard. He called for chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef to be allowed into the UK as part of a trade deal once the UK leaves the EU.

He added: “The trade negotiations need to figure out a way to allow both of these standards to be used and in a way that is honest and truthful – and let consumers choose​.”

In a blog on the BPC website, chief executive Richard Griffiths said the US organisation was confusing the issue, which is that the BPC believed US production didn’t meet UK standards, particularly when it came to animal welfare.

He said: “The UK/EU has multiple pieces of national legislation aimed at various aspects of animal welfare. For chicken alone this includes on-farm, catching, transport, and at slaughter​.

The US has no national welfare legislation covering farm animal welfare. Some states have laws but, as of August 2016, the three major chicken-producing states of Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas did not. In the absence of legislation, the voluntary standards of the National Chicken Council are observed​.”

He also addressed differences in US and UK production processes. “The UK/EU has a maximum transport time of 12 hours, including space requirements​,” he said. “The US follows a maximum transport time of 28 hours, with no restrictions on the number of birds in the crates​.

The UK/EU does not allow meat and bone meal from other terrestrial species, e.g. pigs, to be used in poultry feed​.”

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