News Good Food Trade Campaign

US tells UK it's 'sick and tired' of our objections to chlorine washed chicken

According to a report from Bloomberg Politics (which you can read here) the US is ‘sick and tired’ of us going on about chlorine-washed chicken, claiming that they don’t really use chlorine washes in their farming any more. Read Sustain's response.

Ted McKinney, an undersecretary for trade at the US Department for Agriculture, reportedly made the comments today at the Oxford Farming Conference, adding that the UK could more easily facilitate trade if we could just stop droning on about food safety and drop our standards. An audio clip of his comments can be heard here.

Kath Dalmeny, Chief Executive of Sustain, the food and farming alliance said:

“The US can’t seem to make up their minds. First they insisted chlorine washed chicken was safe to eat, but now they’re saying they don’t really use chlorine any more. At the same time, they’re telling us we need to abandon our food safety standards– like the EU ban on chlorine. Given their higher rates of food poisoning and over use of farm antibiotics, we’d rather not have the US telling us what to eat, thank you very much.  

“The point about their use of chlorine is that it is used to mask low animal welfare and poor farming standards, which the British public will just not accept. Leaving the EU is an opportunity for us to build an even Better Food Britain; we should not have to lower our standards to strike trade deals.

“We’d also like to hear from Michael Gove on Mr McKinney’s claims that Mr Gove has privately assured US officials that he will draw a line under the dispute on the grounds that it’s not fair to American poultry producers. We can assure both Mr Gove and Mr McKinney that they may be sick and tired of hearing us talk about chlorine-rinsed chicken, but we’re not going to shut up about it.”

Ted McKinney said (transcript from link above): 

“First of all, I’d like to say in the broad sense that we’ll hold our food safety and environment and animal welfare standards up against the UK any day of the week and twice on Sunday. So let’s just get that out of the way. The second thing is, we do hope that your consumers have at least the opportunity – we’re not going to force-feed anyone – at least have the opportunity to invest in an American turkey or chicken or any other piece of protein that might be of their choosing.”

“As for chlorinated chicken, I am sick and tired of hearing about chlorinated chicken, because it’s not true. So I’m not going to take any questions from any of you if you raise chlorinated chicken, because we haven’t used chlorinated chicken for a long time. We haven’t used chlorine for a long time. So I’d ask that you move on. We have a Google search on the Secretary [UK Secretary of Agriculture Michael Gove]. All your speeches. We’re watching to see if you keep your word to Secretary Perdue [US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue] and drive past that, because that is not true, we don’t do that and I ask that you drive past that as well.”

Published Thursday 4 January 2018

Good Food Trade Campaign: Campaigning for good trade that benefits people and the planet at home and overseas.

Latest related news

Support our charity

Donate to enhance the health and welfare of people, animals and the planet.


The Green House
244-254 Cambridge Heath Road
London E2 9DA

020 3559 6777

Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

© Sustain 2024
Registered charity (no. 1018643)
Data privacy & cookies