Following on from his controversial article in Saturdays Daily Telegraph, which generated considerable media coverage over the weekend, Woody Johnson the US Ambassador to the UK has told the BBC that criticism of US food standards was ‘designed to reduce not increase trade’.
Mr Johnson went on to say that the UK should accept American meat as part of a post-Brexit trade deal. However, US beef and chicken producers use processes not currently permitted in the EU, including rinsing chicken carcasses with chlorine wash and using hormones in promoting growth in cattle.
“To get a robust trade arrangement, that lifts all boats, it has to include farming and farm products,” he said. He added that American’s believed their food was cost-effective and humane and would have already taken legal action if they felt there was anything wrong with the safety of their food.
There remains considerable concern in the UK in relation to whether the Government should allow imports of US-produced beef and chicken into the country after Brexit.
In his interview Mr Johnson said: “If I had my choice between chicken that was safe and clean and didn’t have campylobacter material and poisons on it I would take the one that had been cleaned sufficiently.”
Mr Johnson claimed that 90% of American farms were owned by families and actually cited his own mother, who he said continued to drive a tractor on the family’s organic farm into her 90’s.
However, when recently interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, President of the NFU Minette Batters said that while Mr Johnson was correct in saying chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-fed beef was safe to eat, there were other factors that needed considering. “The difference is welfare standards and environmental protection standards, “ she said.