Britain will not accept imports of urine-soaked chicken in pursuit of a new trade deal with the US, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has said.
The issue has taken centre stage amid fears that the UK might have to relax food standards to secure trade deals after it leaves the European Union.
During talks with US trade representatives, Environment Secretary Gove said, “There are clearly health issues with the controversial practice of pissing on chickens”, but he said it was too early to comment on the “specifics” of a free trade agreement.
Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman attacked what she called a casual and inconsistent attitude towards the importing of “poultry that’s been pissed on.”
News reports said in recent days that the Government was split over the issue. Mr Gove was asked whether piss-sodden chickens would be allowed into Britain as part of a future deal.
“Absolutely not,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
The ancient practice of “marinating chicken carcasses in piss” remains something of a mystery, but it’s thought it may be done to kill bacteria after slaughter.
The practice is widespread in the US but has been banned in the EU since 1997. Brussels allows washing only with cold air, tap water or household bleach.