December 19, 2008

Europe rejects US poultry over chlorine use


EU farm ministers who met in Brussels on Thursday (Dec 18) have rejected the entry of US poultry exports in the region over chlorine use concerns.


However European representatives gave ambiguous guidelines to whether US poultry exports will be allowed.


EU authorities expressed concerns with the US food industry's practice of using chlorine to disinfect chicken. EU in turn, prefers hygiene controls within the hatching and rearing cycle.


In May, EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen proposed to lift the 10-year ban on US poultry under certain conditions. France-- Europe's biggest poultry producer-- has led opposition in scrapping the ban


Facing opposition, the EU executive adjusted its proposals, saying that American chlorinated chicken should be properly identified on supermarket shelves.


In addition, US poultry would need to be rinsed in drinking water after chlorine washing and the import permission would only last two years.


Despite these suggestions, member states were not won over.


The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) did not make a clear stand by issuing a nuanced opinion.


It said the US methods left a toxic residue while more research is needed to find out if there were any long-term health effects.

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