America Chlorinated Chicken

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The European Union has long refused to import poultry from the United States that is routinely rinsed with chemical washes to kill germs. But the United Kingdom’s planned exit from the EU is putting the practice back in the spotlight, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson even taunting Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by calling him a “chlorinated chicken.” The term has come to sum up concerns that Britain could be pressured to accept to looser food safety standards when negotiating its own post-Brexit trade deals. Unlike in the EU, the use of antimicrobial sprays and washes is widespread in the U.S. chicken industry. Companies apply them to kill germs at various stages during processing, such as when carcasses are de-feathered, gutted or any other point when feces could splatter and spread germs like salmonella. The chemicals used in rinses have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and their use is limited to specified amounts. The agency says the rinses are present in finished products at insignificant levels. The U.S. chicken industry says the use of chlorine has declined to about 10% of the country’s plants, as other chemicals have become more common. It says the rinses help improve food safety, but that it’s difficult to completely rid raw chicken of salmonella and campylobacter germs, which don’t sicken birds and are commonly found in their guts. “Chicken and campylobacter are best friends,” said Ashley Peterson of the National Chicken Council, an industry group. Campylobacter (kam-pih-loh-BAK’-tur) isn’t widely known…

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