Farming leaders have said it would be “insane” to sign a trade deal that allows the import of food that would be illegal to produce in the UK, such as chlorinated chicken.
The Environment Secretary has refused to rule out chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef being imported from the US in a post-Brexit trade deal.
His predecessor before the recent reshuffle had insisted the controversial products from the States would not be imported amid animal welfare and environmental fears.
In countries such as the US, chicken is sometimes washed in chlorine or other chemicals to remove harmful bacteria.
This practice was banned in the European Union in 1997 over food safety concerns.
Consumer group Which? was highly-critical of the comments and demanded that ministers legislate to “ensure current high principles are preserved and reinforced in future trade deals”.
Sue Davies, its head of consumer protection and food policy, said: “It is astonishing that instead of improved food safety and health, chemical washing techniques for chicken and hormone-treated beef are still being left on the negotiating table when the debate has to be firmly focused on the food standards consumers want.”
National Farmers Union president Minette Batters called for the Government to add protections into law to prevent imports “that fails to meet our food safety, animal welfare and environmental standards”.
“If it doesn’t, it will not only fail our farmers but the public too, who quite rightly demand and expect these standards from our own farmers,” she added.
What are your views? Do you support farmers’ fears of being undercut by lower-quality imports? Or would you welcome reduced-priced chicken?