Who knew? No US chicken in EU

May 16, 2008

According to EU regulations, chicken meat for domestic consumption must be cleaned using water of drinking quality. US poultry meat is washed in a chlorine solution and so no genuine US poultry has been eaten in EU states for 11 years.

The ban was imposed in 1997 because of the common U.S. practice of cleaning chicken carcasses with a chlorine wash. 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. They contend that US on-farm sanitary  requirements are poor and, as a result, the meat has to be treated with chemicals like chlorine dioxide in slaughterhouses to reduce the presence of salmonella.

The embargo has angered U.S. policy makers who say there is no evidence that the process is harmful to human health.

C. Boyden Gray, the U.S. special envoy on European affairs, estimated that the embargo cost U.S. producers about $200 million a year in lost sales.

Washington is unhappy that exports of U.S. goods like poultry, beef and genetically modified farm goods are being limited or banned altogether by EU regulations. The Transatlantic Economic Council, set up last year to cut red tape and boost trade between the EU and the United States, has been working to find a solution before the EU-U.S. summit in Ljubljana in June.

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