Keep 'chlorine chickens' out of Europe

27 March 2008

Keep 'chlorine chickens' out of Europe

European Commissioner Gunter Verheugen wants to allow American "chlorine chickens" on to the European market in order to improve EU-US trade relations. SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard disagrees, and today put a series of written questions on the issue to the Commission. "Public health should never take a back seat to trade interests," she says.

Kartika Liotard Since 1997 there has been a ban on imports of "chlorine chickens" from the United States. "After slaughter these chickens are washed in chlorine," Liotard explains, "but all this achieves is to ensure carelessness in the slaughter process itself. This puts the consumer's health at risk. I think it is completely scandalous that Commissioner Verheugen is willing to put food safety at risk in order to please the Americans. The European Commission should disassociate itself from his statement."

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is currently engaged in a study of the health risks arising from these chlorine-treated chickens. Yet Commissioner Verheugen is keen to allow their import whatever the outcome may be of this research. "This completely undermines his credibility," says Kartika Liotard. “If you're not willing to take EFSA's study seriously, then cancel the research and admit that you don't find the health of the European public all that important. Such an attitude, however, would mean that in the future we would never be able to cite food safety as a reason for keeping a particular foodstuff off the market".

Until EFSA produces a well-documented report giving the green light to chlorine-treated chickens, they will remain taboo as far as Liotard is concerned. "I'm asking the Commission to take the same precautionary attitude and not run after Verheugen like so many headless chickens," she says.

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