WATCH: Liam Fox says there is 'no food safety issue' over chlorine-washed chicken
Liam Fox has insisted there is "no food safety issue" over chlorine-washed US chicken.
The International Trade Secretary is in the US to lay the groundwork for a possible post-Brexit trade deal.
President Trump yesterday said his administration was working on a "very big and exciting" agreement - although formal negotiations cannot begin until the UK has left the EU.
However the Government has come under fire after suggestions the UK could be forced to accept imports of American poultry reared to lower safety standards than those in Europe.
Dr Fox - who has refused to say whether he would eat a chicken which had been washed in chlorine - has played down any concerns about public health, insisting there is no problem with meat produced in the US.
"There's no food safety issue with chlorine-washed goods because the EU themselves say that's perfectly safe," he told the BBC's Newsnight programme.
"I think more of an issue would be around the animal welfare issues that that might suggest and of course we've got no intention of reducing the quality and standards of our regulation and that's one of the things we've made very clear.
Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner accused his opposite number of a "sly" choice of words.
Labour MP Ian Murray claimed Dr Fox did not have any evidence to back up his claim that the meat did not present a public health risk.
He said: "EU regulators and the British Poultry Council alike oppose the introduction of chlorine-washed chicken into the UK food chain. So it is cold comfort indeed to hear a minister blithely claiming, without presenting any evidence, that chlorine chicken presents no health risk at all.
"Absolutely nobody voted for Brexit in order to lower our food standards. Regulations protecting consumers must be retained after Brexit. It is pathetic that the Government appears willing to compromise on these standards to secure a trade deal with the US."
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe