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Acid-washed chicken from US raised by new Environment Secretary George Eustice | Politics News

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The new environment secretary has dismissed fears that chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef could be rolled out in UK supermarkets.

George Eustice refused twice to rule out the possibility – which has been raised by campaigners who warn food standards will be cut as part of a trade deal with the United States.

But pressed again he told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday “we won’t make any moves on our standards”.

Washington has already declared it wants “comprehensive market access” for agricultural goods as part of a new post-Brexit trade deal.

Environment Minister George Eustice
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Environment Secretary George Eustice raised the possibility of ‘lactic acid washes’

The issue has notably focused on chlorine-washed poultry, which is widespread in the US but has been banned in the EU since 1997.

Mr Eustice, who comes from a farming background and was promoted in last week’s reshuffle, told Ridge there are “no plans” to change the law.

Asked to reaffirm his predecessor Theresa Villiers’ commitment not to import chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef, he said: “We’re absolutely clear as a government we will not take risks either without food standards and when it comes to animal welfare we will be projecting our views on animal welfare on to the international stage.”

Pressed again, he said “lactic acid washes” are now used more in the US than chlorine, which is unlikely to allay fears over animal welfare.

When asked for the third time, he confirmed: “What I’m saying is we won’t make any moves on our standards.

“We’ve got a clear position in this country that it is illegal to sell chlorine-washed chicken, illegal to sell beef treated with hormones, we have no plans to change those things.”

It comes after Ms Villiers reportedly said last month: “We will not dilute our strong environmental protections, food safety and animal welfare. Even limited access to our markets is a big prize to aspire to.”

The government’s chief science adviser has tried to allay concerns by insisting there is no evidence the controversial meat is harmful.

Sir Ian Boyd said in August: “From a health perspective there really isn’t a problem with chlorinated chicken.

“The issue is about production processes and animal welfare, and that is a values-based choice that people need to make.

“My view is that we need to be allowed to make that choice.”

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