'You'll be absolutely fine with chlorinated chicken', Jacob Rees Mogg declares
Jacob Rees-Mogg has declared his support for importing chlorinated chicken from the US after Brexit, arguing that it will be "absolutely fine" and have "no health consequences" for consumers.
The prospect of importing birds treated in a chemical bath raised alarm when it was mooted as a possible consequence of a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove has even said he would be willing to veto an agreement over the issue, saying the Government "cannot compromise on high environmental standards in pursuit of a trade deal".
Opponents of chlorine-washed chicken argue that US farmers treat chicken with chlorine because of lower hygiene standards earlier on in the production process.
But fellow Brexiteer Mr Rees-Mogg, a firm favourite of the Tory party membership, said he had eaten plenty of American chicken and saw no issue with importing it to the UK.
"I'm not in the least bit worried about chlorinated chicken. As a frequent visitor to the US in the past, I'm bound to have eaten quite a lot of chlorinated chicken without noticing," he told a fringe event at the Conservative party conference in Manchester.
"And I did look up the New Zealand report on chlorinated chicken when they were discussing their free trade deal with the US and they found nobody had ever had any adverse consequences from chlorinated chicken which basically just kills germs, other than the inspectors who went round seeing how the chlorine was put in on the chickens and they breathed in a bit too much and felt a bit queasy. So, unless you're an inspector of chlorination you'll be absolutely fine with chlorinated chicken.
"When you actually look at it, what it's doing is it's killing some quite nasty germs that can give you upset stomachs and so forth. It has a purpose and it has no health consequence for people who eat chlorinated chicken and therefore banning it would purely be an act of protectionism."
The North-West Somerset MP even took a straw poll of the audience at the packed fringe event, with around half raising their hand to say they would not be comfortable eating chemically treated poultry.
He responded by suggesting shoppers should be able to see which meat had been treated with chlorine to make their own minds up, saying: "What I think you should do is have chlorinated chicken with big labels on saying 'this chicken's been chlorinated', and then the free market could decide."