• The Financial District


After British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was attacked for walking away from his pledge to ban the entry of chlorinated US chicken meat, his Cabinet Office Minister Penny Mondaunt also got battered for saying she believed “we should be trusting the consumer” on the issue and suggested some people did not want to “put their faith in government” regulations.

Reporting on the brouhaha over chlorinated chicken meat, Jon Stone of the Independent said on Tuesday, June 9. 2020 that government signaled last Thursday that imports of lower-standard US food were now on the table in the negotiations, a reversal of a longstanding promise. Johnson is banking on a trade deal with the US after leaving the European Union (EU) but the deal, at best, would only contribute 0.16% to the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP.) British farmers opposed the entry of low standard and cheap US chicken meat without country of origin labeling (COL) and warned they would be eaten alive by US chicken meat exporters.

As recently as January, Theresa Villiers, then environment secretary, reiterated that “we will not be importing chlorinated chicken” – but since then US trade chiefs have put pressure on the UK to change its position, leading the government to change tack. US meat factories use chlorine to wash chickens so that they can operate a less sanitary production environment otherwise, an approach which saves money and allows them to undercut other producers.

The UK is taking a “dual tariff” approach to the imports, allowing US meats in even if they do not meet some British production standards, but also charging tariffs. If US food exports do make it to the UK, British consumers may be denied information about which products are US to help them get a foothold in the market. The US government’s “Foreign Trade Barriers” document for 2019 catalogues policies in countries around the world the US wants ended. The US wants the COL, championed by the World Trade Organization (WTO), axed because of “the potential to favor select countries, and the impact on US exports.”