Mute Schimpf doesn’t want to eat American chicken. That’s because most U.S. poultry is chilled in antimicrobial baths that can include chlorine to keep salmonella and other bacteria in check. In Europe, chlorine treatment was banned in the 1990s out of fear that it could cause cancer.
"In Europe there is definitely a disgust about chlorinated chicken," says Schimpf, a food activist with Friends of the Earth Europe, an environmental group.
The chlorine vs. no chlorine debate has come up a lot recently in the context of a massive trans-Atlantic trade agreement. This week, negotiators from Europe and the U.S. are meeting in Washington for a seventh round of talks aimed at creating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.
…The EU…operates on the precautionary principle, a kind of abundance of caution when it comes to any substance that enters your body.
"In Europe, their efforts to control foodborne illness is all in the live bird. For example, the grandparent stock, the breeder stock that makes the egg of the chicken we eat eventually — all of those flocks of chicken are tested regularly for salmonella," Russell says. If any of these chickens test positive, farmers have to get rid of the entire flock.
With this method, Europeans have reduced salmonella in their chicken to just 2 percent, Russell says, but the process took 20 years.
Europeans have pushed for some of the toughest food-safety standards in the world. They want to eat fresh chicken that’s air-chilled rather than dumped in chlorinated water tanks, says Cees Vermeeren, who manages the European Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade.
"The main principle of the European food policy is a farm-to-fork approach, and you may say that is fundamentally different from what’s happening outside Europe in many places," Vermeeren says.
That strict food policy makes poultry production more expensive. A study by Wageningen University in the Netherlands found it takes about a dollar in Europe to produce a pound of chicken, compared with less than 80 cents in America.
Over 120 countries accept the U.S. processing method, says James Sumner, the president of the U.S.A. Poultry and Egg Export Council. It’s cheaper, he says, and Europe doesn’t want U.S. competition. “If the truth were to be known, that’s the real reason they don’t want us there, and chlorine is a convenient excuse,” he says.
I wonder if that last statement is biased at all………*mcheewww*
Regardless of whether or not its a little bit of chlorine or a lot of chlorine I think European activists are within their right to not want our chicken welcomed into their country. The article says it took 20 years to put current policies into place so why would they want them reversed or undermined by a cheaper option? I think they are right to protect something they have worked so hard for. It troubles me that we’re not more outraged in this country about some of the practices that are allowed in the name of food safety. Wasn’t the whole "Pink Slime" debacle about food safety? This April when news broke that Europe had banned American apples, it scared me! Not because I automatically jump to the conclusion that everything Europe does is right and should be replicated, but the fact that so FEW questions were asked after the fact. Why aren’t we more curious about our food and what is done to it before it reaches our plates?