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Brexit: Villiers urges firm stance on standards for imports of US chicken

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Standards: Theresa Villiers

Standards: Theresa Villiers

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Standards: Theresa Villiers

Former Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has urged the government to stand firm when negotiating with the US on a future trade deal.

The European Union has a ban on chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef entering its markets.

However, with the UK departure from the bloc, there has been a focus on the likely trade deal it will have with the US. Last week Downing Street refused to stand by an earlier pledge to keep so-called chlorinated chicken off UK shelves.

NI poultry industry insiders warned they are more immediately concerned with rising Chinese imports and the lack of information on welfare standards than the potential for chlorinated chicken on shop shelves.

In an opinion piece in the Mail on Sunday, Theresa Villiers, a one-time environment secretary, noted that the Conservative manifesto promised no compromises on environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards post-Brexit.

"That is why I very much welcome reports that Boris Johnson will now insist that in any future trade deal with the US, chlorinated chicken and other American foodstuffs not produced to our own high animal welfare standards will be subject to steep tariffs," Ms Villiers wrote.

"That will protect British farmers from being undercut by produce that is only cheaper because it is reared or grown using methods that would not be permitted in the UK.

"Much debate has centred on the UK/EU ban on the import of chlorinated chicken. While the science is disputed, there can be little doubt that chlorine, and other disinfectant washes deployed at the end of production, are used to compensate for poor hygiene during rearing and slaughter. However, our negotiators should stand firm and insist on tariffs or restrictions on imported food unless it is produced to standards of animal welfare and environmental protection as good as our own."

Belfast Telegraph