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Future of U.K. Food Standards Could Split Boris Johnson’s Cabinet

Downing Street memo implies that backsliding on chlorinated chicken splits ministers

U.K. food standards on chlorinated chicken divide the government
Chickens at the supermarket
Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

Beef over chlorinated chicken splits ministers

The government’s backsliding on U.K. food standards has split the cabinet, as Downing Street desperately attempts to get consensus on a “no specific policy” approach to animal welfare in U.S. trade talks. 11 ministers have aired concerns, according to the Guardian, after a government elected on a pledge to not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards” introduced a tiered tariff proposal that would allow foods falling short of U.K. standards through customs.

While a new briefing implicitly reveals the broad split on trade, it also says “cabinet committee would return to the animal welfare issue “in June to settle all outstanding agriculture issues,” suggesting more work remains. As well as reneging on manifesto pledges, the government has also repeatedly, strenuously denied that chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef would arrive. In January, then environment secretary Theresa Villiers said “We will not be importing chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef, both are illegal under EU law which we will be importing into our domestic system. We have commitment of [the Prime Minister].” In March, a draft document for future negotiation indicated a lack of enthusiasm for American meat imports. While the National Farmers’ Union describes the proposed tariff system as a “step forward,” it continues to pressure the government, petitioning for all U.K. food imports to meet extant food standards. [Guardian]

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