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UK food safety at risk with public softened up for lower standards, warn experts

25 September 2019

Image of fresh fruit and vegetables at a market

There are signs that the government is trying to soften up the public for lower food standards post-Brexit, including imported chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef, highlights a new briefing from the Food Research Collaboration which includes Professor Terry Marsden of the Sustainable Places Research Institute.

Renewed warnings have been issued from experts after a statement by retiring Chief Scientific Advisor at Defra, Professor Sir Ian Boyd said that there are no health problems with chlorinated chicken and it is a matter that should be decided by ‘consumer choice’.

Chlorine washing is used in the USA to disinfect food that emerges from production lines with less stringent hygiene standards than are required in the EU.

However, evidence shows that rather than preventing infections, the process merely blocks the standard test method by which the presence of such bacteria should be revealed, with the bacteria remaining present on the food and able to cause serious and sometimes fatal food poisoning.

Evidence, which is acknowledged by senior officials at the Food Standards Authority, shows that rates of bacterial food poisoning in the US are far higher than in the UK, proving that foods are far less clean and safe in the US than they are in the UK.

The briefing also argues that the overuse of antibiotics in the USA contributing to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and their use should be cut.

The experts call for robust commitments to protecting food standards to be included in all legal agreements in any post-Brexit trade-related negotiations. They also urge public health, consumer and environment organisations to combine efforts to prevent the undermining of high food standards in the UK.

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