Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to Britain, has been called out by a well-known food critic, a farming union, and trade justice campaigners over his push to open the British market to American farmers after the Brexit deal is finalized.
BBC presenter and popular MasterChef critic Jay Rayner has claimed in a series of tweets that the UK should tell Johnson where he can "stick chlorinated chicken", the US' allegedly preferred approach to protect consumers from bacteria often found in meat, such as salmonella and campylobacter.
Thread: We shouldn't be surprised the US Ambassador @woodyjohnson4 wants the UK to embrace chlorine washed chicken as part of a post Brexit FTA but we should tell him where he can stick it. Because, contrary to what he says, it's risky stuff. https://t.co/54HsWisI2A 1/— Jay Rayner (@jayrayner1) 2 марта 2019 г.
He went on to state that chlorine washing "doesn't kill pathogens", referring to a study by the University of Southampton. "The study was on salad vegetables but the lead scientist made clear to me that it applied to chicken as well", Rayner tweeted.
Rayner called Brexit, which "is all downsides", "an act of national self-harm", continuing by saying that:
"Letting in chlorine-washed chicken as Woody demands would be literally harmful to the health of the nation. It makes me sick, in so many bloody ways".
The comments were made in response to Woody Johnson's recent article in The Telegraph, in which he attempted to dismiss ubiquitous warnings that a post-Brexit trade deal would result in chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-pumped beef flooding the UK market.
"You have been presented with a false choice", he wrote.
"Either stick to EU directives, or find yourselves flooded with American food of the lowest quality. Inflammatory and misleading terms like ‘chlorinated chicken' and ‘hormone beef' are deployed to cast American farming in the worst possible light", Johnson stated, adding that the time has come to call out the myths "for what they really are".
"A smear campaign from people with their own protectionist agenda", he noted.
According to Johnson, the use of chlorine to wash chicken was the same as that used by EU farmers to treat exported fruit and vegetables.
Meanwhile, Nick Dearden from the campaign group Global Justice Now butted in, saying that the EU heavily restricted the use of chlorine in salad washing several years ago, stressing that it is more of an animal welfare issue now.
"The reason US farmers do it is because their animals are raised in such cramped conditions that the only way to stop them becoming diseased is to dunk them in chlorine", he was quoted by The Guardian as saying. "It's really an animal welfare issue here.
If UK farmers want to compete against American imports they'll have to lower standards or go out of business". The rhetoric echoed that of The National Farmers' Union (NFU), which in its turn raised the issue of the quality of food potentially delivered to Britain from elsewhere, including the US:
"It is imperative that any future trade deals, including a possible deal with the US, do not allow the imports of food produced to lower standards than those required of British farmers", Minette Batters, the NFU president pointed out.
Last February, members of Parliament (MPs) urged the Cabinet to establish a Brexit fund to support the farmers affected by the looming changes, and called for more efficient trade negotiations, which would lead to striking beneficial trade deals with the UK's new partners in terms of the exchange in agricultural products.
In a special report, British lawmakers called on the Conservative and Unionist Cabinet of Prime Minister Theresa May to address the nascent risks while Albion is still technically part of the EU.