Chicken sat in grassy field

The Chlorinated Chicken Debate;

Woody Johnson, the United States ambassador to the United Kingdom, has published an article defending his country’s agricultural practices whilst discarding the EU’s “museum of agriculture”.

His comments come as Washington publishes its negotiating objectives for a US-UK trade deal with the backing of the Trump administration. The document asserts “the UK’s decision to leave the EU creates a new opportunity to expand and deepen the U.S-U.K trade relationship”. Trade between the world’s largest global economy and the world’s fifth largest already totals in excess of $230 billion.

Any agreement would come with restrictions though – it would be naive to assume the UK will get softer treatment than America’s other trading partners. The United States is keen to ensure that London can’t manipulate its currency and that the UK doesn’t align itself too closely with “non-market economies like Beijing”. However, the real sticking point, in terms of public opinion, is US demands for comprehensive access to the British agricultural market, which many suspect will degrade food standards in Britain.

Mr Johnson described concerns over US farming practices as “inflammatory and misleading” and assured that processes used in America are a “public safety no-brainer”. The European Union has always regarded methods across the Atlantic as potentially dangerous whilst worrying about a public backlash if they were to be accepted.

The US National Farmers Union complaints over “fear-mongering” may have some credibility. The European Union has never argued that the act of washing chicken carcasses in chlorinated water is unsafe. Their concerns are centred around the potential for unscrupulous abattoirs relying on using chlorine as a decontaminant and sacrificing basic food hygiene protocols.

Perhaps, then, this challenge could be easily overcome. Downing Street has repeatedly said it will not lower food standards, but if the UK can have faith in the quality of supply chains in the US then we could be on the way to a solution.