Arkansas Representative Steve Womack (R, AR-3), along with 46 Members of Congress, yesterday sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer requesting that U.S. chicken products be included in any new trade agreement with the United Kingdom.
The letter specifically addresses the European Union’s long-standing, unscientific ban on U.S.-exported chicken due to an American practice of using chlorine during processing. The U.K. formally adhered to the E.U.’s food safety standards in 1997 and American chicken has been banned from entry since that time.
“With almost one of five pounds of chicken being exported, a robust and expanding overseas market is extremely important to the economic health and well-being of the U.S. chicken industry,” said National Chicken Council President Mike Brown. “Including U.S. chicken is critical in any new trade agreement with the U.K. – an agreement that should not be hampered by artificial trade barriers. I want to thank Congressman Womack for his leadership on this issue and for the members who signed the letter for their commitment to expanding U.S. chicken exports.”
The U.K. formally departed the E.U. on January 31, 2020 and is now free to negotiate its own trade agreements with other nations. The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) first notified Congress on October 16, 2018 of its intent to negotiate a trade deal with the U.K. upon its exit from the European Union and formally published its negotiating objectives on February 29, 2019. The U.K. published its post-Brexit negotiating objectives on March 2, 2020, which included explicit references to “chlorine-washed chicken.”
“The UK’s current food and product standards should be maintained and not negatively impacted by an FTA with the US,” the U.K.’s negotiating objectives read.
“Antimicrobial spray washes are used in the production process to improve food safety. However, all rinses, including chlorine, must be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and their use is limited to specific amounts,” the letter reads. “This is just one step in the process – the USDA also inspects all chicken produced in the U.S. Additionally, only an estimated 10% of the processing plants in the U.S. use chlorine throughout production and scientific research confirms using chlorine-washed chicken does not pose any human health concerns, nor is it present in the final product. There is no question that extensive scientific research and inspection are applied throughout the entire chicken production process to ensure consumer safety.”
More information on the use of antimicrobial rinses can be found at Chicken Check In.
“Adding a new market like the U.K will continue the momentum gained by opening markets like China and Japan to our chicken industry. Lifting this ban will set the stage for future agreements, such as with the E.U., and reinforce the Administration’s stance that U.S. farmers and ranchers are an integral part of the American economy that should not be left behind.”