Chlorinated chicken hardly sounds like something you'd enjoy to read on a menu. The European Union bans imports of chlorine-washed chicken from the US but a post-Brexit transatlantic trade deal could allow exports to the UK. So what's the truth about chlorinated chicken and is it safe to eat?
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the UK has voted to leave the European Union since the referendum Britain's been hit with fears over brexit food and medicine shortages panic buying crisis at the border a rise in public disorder and then there's this join me at Donald Trump's house of wings chlorinated chicken which as unpalatable as it sounds could form part of a new trade deal between Britain and America post brexit so is it another thing to worry about let's start off with that odd name what on earth does it mean chlorinated chicken is a catch-all term has been used to describe the process of disinfecting poultry meat produced in the US near the end of a production line birds go through chemical rinses that kill harmful bacteria like e-coli Salmonella and Campylobacter basically things which you definitely don't want to be eating ok so this sounds like it's a public health story right I mean it can't be good for you eating poorly dr. Fox sir would you personally feel comfortable eating corn washed chicken and on the surface this is what you'd think especially as chlorinated chicken has been banned in the EU since 1997 however in 2005 the European Food Safety Authority found that the trace amounts of chemicals from chlorinated chicken posed no safety concern for consumers and in fact most supermarket salads and baked vegetables Ettore more plus we've been drinking the stuff from out of taps for decades so if it's not about drinking chlorine you have old it wrecks it now you're gonna get the chlorinated chicken then why is chlorinated chicken ruffling so many feathers the British media are obsessed with chlorine washed chickens the --use major worry is that chemical rinses could be used to hide poor practices within chicken farms and factories to understand this we're going to take a quick look at how poultry is mass-produced and a warning things might get a bit grim to satisfy global demand chicken is produced on an industrial scale most birds live for around 40 days reared in their thousands inside crowded sheds and fed to an unnatural sized one slaughtered they'll join a semi-automated factory line to be deep feathered gutted and portioned up ready for sale this is how 95% of all chicken bots in the UK's made and producing chicken at this pace means the threat of disease and bacterial cross-contamination is very high which in the u.s. is where chemical rinses come in within you though a principle called farm-to-fork legislates a safety-first approach to hygiene and animal welfare across agriculture which in theory makes chemical rinses unnecessary minimum living standards for things like how much space birds have to roam ammonia levels even lighting conditions are all set by laws whereas in the u.s. similar standards are only guidelines that farmers choose to opt in or out of combine this laid-back lawmaking with chemical rinses and you have the potential for serious malpractice to be covered up and that's what bothers the EU for example chemical rinses could hide the fact that a farm abuses birds or overcrowded sheds and they could also mask poor hygiene during processing where it's vital cross contamination risks are properly managed so on leaving the European Union Britain must face a dilemma will it keep the same food safety standards from the EU or move towards less regulating models like the u.s. neither method is a hundred percent guaranteed against an outbreak of foodborne illness but is once safer than the other the simple answer is it's complicated official figures would suggest that your general chances of getting food poisoning are higher in America but try to compare these figures and those are poultry borne disease is hard to do as the data isn't like for life however one study in 2018 did find that chemical rinses may reduce but not totally kill off harmful bacteria chlorinated chicken there may not be the big scare story for the reasons you'd expect but one place you might find real fear is within Britain's own farming communities this is the key question because it would undermine British production we've got English agriculture working on very very tight margins and very high standards the threat to British farmers from importing cheap US chicken could leave many of them struggling to compete unless standards are dropped we as a nation have got to make up our minds whether we want really cheap cheerful at which case a lot of English agriculture will go to the war none of this will matter if brexit doesn't happen but if it does and a US UK trade deal is agreed Brits will likely find American chickens chillin alongside British and EE ones and supermarket fridges so what might these choices boil down to well if you want the best animal welfare look out for these logos on the label if you're worried about standards generally choosing British or EU chicken would be the best option but if price matters most the American chlorinated chicken could be your meal ticket the theater this story isn't so much about eating wings with an unhealthy sign of chlorine I feel like I just swallowed a mouthful of bandages it's more to do with importing cheap unregulated food into Britain and what I could do to things like food safety animal welfare and UK farming ultimately bank the decision on whether the UK will accept chlorinated chicken will be made by British consumers at the checkouts thanks very much for watching this video I hope you enjoyed we want to know what you think in the comments below like would it be enough to put you off your Sunday roast if you knew that your chicken was chlorine washed if you enjoy these videos please like and subscribe and click here to support the guardian