As a part of the Brexit, the UK is renegotiating export deals with the US.
One of the sticking point is chlorine washed chicken.
In the EU and the UK, cleanliness is required at every step of the process, while in the US, the carcasses are washed with a solution of water and chlorine because the chickens are raised in in extreme conditions, and the chlorine washing is required to make ensure that the chickens are safe to eat:
The disturbing prospect of chlorine-washed chickens from the US going on sale in British shops in a post-Brexit trade deal last week sparked an explosive row at the heart of Government.
But beyond the politics lies the story of why American poultry needs such drastic chemical treatment – and of the horrendous conditions at the farms where they are bred and reared.
Now whistleblower farmers have revealed the full horror of the suffering to The Mail on Sunday, including how:
- Tens of thousands of super-sized ‘Frankenstein’ birds are crammed in vast warehouses.
- The chickens, which weigh up to 9lb, often buckle under their weight and must live without natural sunlight.
- Chickens frequently die before they reach maturity and many are left covered in their own faeces, turning warehouses into vile breeding grounds for disease.
Unlike in the UK and Europe, there are no minimum space requirements for breeding chickens in the US. America also does not have any rules governing lighting levels in the sheds and, crucially, its farms have no maximum allowed level of ammonia, which indicates how much urine and faecal matter is present. This means there is no limit on how much can fester inside the sheds.
There is no legal requirement to wash US chickens in chlorine or other disinfectants, but 97 per cent of its birds are cleaned in this way after slaughter.
Another reason poultry in the US is chlorinated is that farmers are not required to vaccinate against diseases such as Salmonella. Britain and the EU have widespread vaccination programmes.
Leah Garces, of the Global Animal Partnership, an animal welfare group, added: ‘The fact we have to wash our food in chlorine to make it safe indicates that we are not doing farming right in the first place. It indicates how unhealthy we are raising our birds.’
While UK chicken farmers are not wholly free from criticism from animal welfare campaigners, there are strict regulations that must be followed. In the UK and Europe, poultry farmers must not keep more than 17 chickens per square metre in their sheds. There are also rules governing available natural light, temperature and the maximum levels of ammonia.
Shraddha Kaul, of the British Poultry Council, said: ‘We strongly reject any move to import chlorine-washed chickens as part of a makeweight in trade negotiations with the US.
‘Chlorine is used as a catch-all. It is an approach which means it doesn’t matter how badly you treat your chicken, you can just clean it away at the end of the process.’
This reflects a very big difference in philosophy, the Europeans bake in sanitation throughout the process, while in the US, you hose the chickens down with disinfectant when they hit the slaughter house.
Of course, lousy chicken and a race to the bottom is the par for the course in free trade deals, so limeys need to eat their mutant steroid and antibiotic fetid chicken, and they need to like it.