Will EU allow imports of chlorine-bleached chicken to please the Americans?

A body representing farmers and co-operatives in the EU has warned that allowing US poultry imports will undermine the efforts of EU businesses producing high quality chicken. It follows recent reports that imports from the USA into the EU will resume later this year as a 10-year ban is expected to come to an end.

The decision to ban poultry imports from the USA into the EU was put in place 10 years ago due to health concerns about antimicrobial agents used by American processors.

Pekka Pesonen, secretary general of COPA-COGECA, explained that in the EU, poultry producers comply with highly demanding and costly rules to control salmonella on the farm.

On the contrary, in the US, on-farm requirements are very limited and the meat has to be treated with chemicals like chlorine dioxide in slaughterhouses to reduce the presence of salmonella. Such poultry meat has not been allowed to enter the European market until now. However, the Americans are now requesting that the EU authorise this kind of practice so as to sell their meat in Europe.

“Just because the Americans want it, are we supposed to accept meat produced according to lower standards? Are we supposed to put our philosophy of on-farm salmonella control behind us and allow chemically-treated meat to be sold to consumers while there are still ‘uncertainties’ over the possible occurrence of acquired reduced susceptibility to biocides and resistance to antibiotics?”

European poultry producers would not understand why they have to comply with such high standards at farm level if ultimately European consumers are sold chlorine-bleached meat.

“The Commission should be consistent and support the European way of producing poultry meat instead of permitting production methods that go against its own philosophy,” concluded the secretary general.