Reported 'U-turn' on chlorinated chicken and hormone-reared meat is denied by Banbury's MP

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis - minister for farming - has denied the government is planning to allow chlorinated chicken and hormone-reared meat to be imported into the UK.
Minister for farming, Banbury MP Victoria PrentisMinister for farming, Banbury MP Victoria Prentis
Minister for farming, Banbury MP Victoria Prentis

Mrs Prentis was responding to fears by Banburyshire farmers that cheaper, sub-standard foods would be allowed into the country as part of a trade deal with the USA.

The farmers' concerns were deepened after national newspapers reported Boris Johnson had suggested such imports are 'on the table - but with tariffs' - duties to be paid on imports.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went on record at the beginning of the year saying Washington will demand the inclusion of its controversial agricultural products in a trade deal.

Adderbury farmer Tony Hopper who wants assurances on food import quality to be set in lawAdderbury farmer Tony Hopper who wants assurances on food import quality to be set in law
Adderbury farmer Tony Hopper who wants assurances on food import quality to be set in law

And the National Farmers' Union, raised a petition against the imports and calling on the UK Government to put into law rules that prevent food being imported to the UK which is produced in ways that would be illegal here.

Celebrity Chef, Jamie Oliver, was praised by Banburyshire farmers for supporting the petition, now signed by 865,000 people. The Banbury Guardian story can be seen here.

This week Mrs Prentis said: "As the Farming Minister, l can reassure people that food coming into this country will be required to meet existing import requirements. At the end of the transition period the Withdrawal Act will convert all EU standards into domestic law. These include a ban on using artificial growth hormones in both domestic and imported products. Nothing apart from drinking water may be used to clean chicken carcasses. Any changes to these standards would have to come before Parliament.

“England’s food standards, for both domestic products and imports, are overseen by the independent Food Standards Agency. This will not change; the FSA will continue to ensure that all food imports comply with our high safety standards. Decisions on these standards are a matter for the UK and will be made separately from any trade agreement. We will not lower our standards as we negotiate new trade deals.”

However farmers want assurances to be set in law, something that was rejected during a recent 'whipped' vote on an amendment to the Agriculture Act in the House of Commons.

Adderbury farmer Tony Hopper said: "We feel completely let down by recent reports stating the government will not stand by their promise made in January.

"What is the point of a promise if they can break it and what more will they go back on? We produce the safest and highest quality food in the world and allowing these sorts of products into the UK completely undermines that.

"This risks the future of our British agriculture and the health of our nation. We agree with NfU's request for an independent commission to be set up to review trade agreements."

During the parliamentary debate on the Agriculture Act Mrs Prentis said: "I reassure colleagues that all food coming into this country will be required to meet existing import requirements.

Another farmer said: "What about packaging and labelling, I've seen that the US wants to demand it doesn't need it's name on packaging so people don't know what they are buying. And would they put a large enough tariff on so people will still buy British?"

Farmers have also expressed fear that the EU regulations may be reviewed after Brexit. It is understood any such reviews would also have to pass through Parliament.