Food safety risks in a US-UK deal highlighted in report
The Soil Association has outlined the top ten food safety risks it believes are posed by a future transatlantic trade deal, including for chicken, beef and pork, due to a host of regulatory divergences.
Chlorine-washed chicken tops the list, as it is banned in the EU, but in the US, the American poultry industry uses “acid washes” to eliminate bacteria at the end of the meat production chain.
Hormone-treated beef comes second, as the US Food and Drug Administration reportedly allows a number of steroid hormone drugs for use in beef production, but has been banned in the EU since 1989.
Ractopamine in pork is another potential food safety risk that a transatlantic deal might cause, as, according to the report, an estimated 60-80% of US pigs are fed the beta agonist drug. The treatment increases protein synthesis, but has been banned by the EU since 1996, as it has been found to cause “serious disability in animals”.
The Soil Association notes that it has been working with the Trade Democracy Coalition, which urges the UK Government to establish a process that establishes broad principles for all trade policy and requires UK Parliamentary approval of negotiating positions before the start of formal proceedings, along with impact assessments.
It has also called for a “full and meaningful” public consultation, while making negotiating texts publicly available, along with full parliamentary debate, with the potential to amend terms, and vote on all trade agreements.
Honor Eldridge, policy officer at the Soil Association, said: “British farming has a reputation for high food safety and high animal welfare. It is imperative that any future trade deal does not result in a dilution of these standards for consumers. Nor should any deal competitively disadvantage UK farmers.
“We welcome Michael Gove’s assertion that the UK should not race to the bottom in competing with cheap imports, as well as his commitment to supporting environmentally-friendly farming practice.”