Chuck Fry insisted his meat standards were ‘super high’ as row over poultry standards threaten to overshadow trade talks
AMERICAN farmers have defended their controversial chlorine-washed chickens and blasted the suggestion they are trying to “poison” British consumers.
Chuck Fry from Maryland insisted his meat standards were “super high” as he dismissed the row over poultry as “hogwash”.
He was speaking to the BBC this morning after the issue threatened to overshadow Liam Fox’s trip to the US for trade talks.
But the International Trade Secretary did little to diffuse the situation when he refused to say yesterday whether he would eat one of the so-called “chlorinated” birds.
A Cabinet split has developed over the issue, with Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom coming out against the chicken preparation method, which is done to reduce the spread of disease.
It is currently banned by the EU, but US poultry is around a fifth cheaper, and has been deemed safe by the European Food Standards Authority.
Many believe agreeing to allow the import of chlorine washed chicken, along with hormone-fed beef and genetically modified crops would be key to any post-Brexit deal.
But speaking in Washington Mr Fox accused the British media of being “obsessed” with a “detail” – though that led to pro-EU campaigners daring him to prove how relaxed he is by eating one during his visit stateside.
And this morning Mr Fry told Radio 4’s Today programme: “The problem is educating consumers and consumers get on a bandwagon and technology is what’s happened to just about everything in this country.
“Now we have technology that we use in cars and automobiles in diesel engines that are more efficient.”
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He continued: “Food is a very intimate source and I get that – I know what we use on this farm, I know the amount of penicillins and the amount of hormones that we use, they just don’t exist.”
Mr Fry said there were only “very low levels” used on his farm, adding: “I know our standards are super high.”
Also speaking to the programme was American Farm Bureau Federation’s chief economist Dr Bob Young, who said to British chicken consumers: “We’re not going to ask you to eat anything we’re not willing to eat ourselves.
“And if somebody thinks that we’re in this to come up with some system to poison the UK consumer that’s just hogwash and you know that’s hogwash.”
And Lord Krebs, the former chairman of the British Food Standards Agency, said nobody is saying US beef or chicken was unsafe.
But he added: “The prime minister has said after Brexit we will maintain high welfare standards in this country.
“On the other hand we hear Liam Fox saying we want to do a trade deal with America and other countries which would encourage cheaper imports, with probably lower welfare standards.
“So that is the question – do we want to maintain our own industry with high welfare standards or do you want to race to the bottom and import the cheapest meat wherever it comes from around the world?”
It comes after a report by the House of Lords EU Environment Committee said there was no reason general animal welfare standards should fall after the UK leaves the EU.
But Lord Teverson, the Lib Dem peer who chairs the committee, did warn of the threat to UK firms from cheap food imports, saying welfare standards should be written into future trade deals.
However Sue Hayman MP, Labour’s shadow environment secretary, said: “The Conservatives seem to have a problem with animal welfare and food standards, with a manifesto commitment to bring back fox hunting and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox appearing to support importing chlorine-washed chicken as part of a US-UK trade deal.”