UK shoppers should be given ‘a choice’ to buy American products like chlorinated chicken as part of a trade deal with the US, US Ambassador Woody Johnson said this weekend, ahead of a visit to the UK by US President Donald Trump.
In response to a question from BBC journalist Andrew Marr about whether British people would have to accept US farming practices and food standards in order to secure a trade deal, Ambassador Johnson said: “I think there is going to have to be some deal where you give the British people a choice. American products would come over, be allowed to come over. Agriculture is extremely important to the President, any president, agriculture in all 50 states, 50 senators. You give the British people a choice, if they like it they can buy it, if they don’t want it, they don’t have to buy it.”
When it was put to him that he had “poo-poohed British worries over chlorinated chicken and genetically modified foods” Ambassador Johnson responded. “That was probably the most interesting PR campaign to ban American products that I’ve seen. If we could put that in reverse, we’d all make a lot of money.” And went on to say American food was “completely safe” and that British consumers wouldn’t have to buy the produce.
Woody Johnson: “They don’t have to accept it. They, once again, can have a choice. We have five million British people coming over to the US every year and I’ve never heard a complaint, one complaint, with anything to do with chicken.”
The US Ambassador did not make it clear how he would expect UK consumers to be able to find out if they are eating American chicken or any other type of imported meat. There are no rules requiring clear origin labelling for meat contained in products such as ready-meals, take-away dishes, restaurant menus or food served in schools, hospitals and meals on wheels services, which is how people are most likely to consume the meat they eat.
When pressed on whether the NHS would be part of the trade discussions, Ambassador Johnson acknowledged that it “is the pride of the country” but went on to say that “the entire economy, in a trade deal, all things that are traded, would be on the table.” He confirmed that in his opinion, this would include food and healthcare.
You can watch the interview on the BBC Iplayer here from 17:30 mins.
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