UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

  • The EU is set to tell Boris Johnson that he must ban chlorinated chicken in order to get a trade deal.
  • Brussels will say Britain must uphold EU rules on food when the bloc sets out its negotiating objectives.
  • There is a growing concern in Britain that Johnson's government is planning to compromise food standards.
  • Environment Secretary George Eustice suggested chemical-washed US chicken was on the table.
  • Britain's farmers will on Tuesday warn Johnson not to "undermine" the industry.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The European Union is set to tell Boris Johnson's UK government that it cannot have a free trade deal unless it agrees to continue to prohibit chlorinated chicken and other banned imports from the US.

The EU's negotiating guidelines, which the bloc will publish on Tuesday, will say that the UK must uphold the EU's strict rules relating to food hygeine and animal welfare, according to The Guardian newspaper.

The key clause states that both the EU and Britain must maintain "health and product sanitary quality in the food and agriculture sector" as part of a post-Brexit free trade agreement.

It comes amid growing concern in the UK that Johnson's government is preparing to compromise on food standards in order to make it easier to strike a wide-ranging free trade deal with the Donald Trump administration.

The UK Environment Secretary George Eustice at the weekend refused to explicitly rule out the UK accepting chlorinated chicken into its markets as part of a free trade deal with the US.

Prime Minister Johnson has insisted that the UK will not lower its food standards now it has left the EU.

However, the National Farmers Union wants concrete reassurances and has called on the UK government to include legal safeguards for food in legislation called the Agriculture Bill. The UK government is refusing to do so.

In a speech in Birmingham on Tuesday, NFU President Minette Batters warned that in countries like the US, there are "no federal controls" on what the UK currently treats as "fundamental welfare requirements" for animals.

"This year the government must show global leadership, insist that UK farm standards are the benchmark for climate-friendly farming around the world and that whoever wants to trade with us, trades on our terms," she said.

"We must not allow those standards to be undermined by imports of goods which would be illegal for our farmers to produce here."

Enviroment Secretary Eustice suggested that chorlinated chicken would not a major issue in talks with the Trump regime as most US farmers use a different chemical - lactic acid - to wash carcusses before being sold.

However, Batters set out her strong opposition to the use of "chlorine or other chemicals to wash carcases."

"In other parts of the world abattoirs use chlorine or other chemicals to wash carcases - this is not allowed in Britain because we have legislation on the way we keep our livestock which limits stocking density," she will say.

"We have rules on biosecurity, lighting, diet and veterinary oversight."

She added: "This isn't just about chlorinated chicken. This is about a wider principle.

"We must not tie the hands of British farmers to the highest rung of the standards ladder while waving through food imports which may not even reach the bottom rung."

UK government sets out its EU trade deal plans

The NFU's Brexit director recently told Business Insider that the industry feared the government would ultimately trade away UK food standards in talks with "fearsome" US negotiators.

Their fears were exacerbated last week when it emerged that Johnson's government was preparing to break away from EU rules on food and agriculture at an upcoming meeting of the World Trade Organisation.

The Trump administration has said it will prioritize access to Britain's agricultural markets when trade talks begin.

The US trade representative's objectives for negotiations, published last year, said the UK should "remove expeditiously unwarranted barriers that block the export of US food and agricultural products."

It added that it sought to remove "unjustified trade restrictions" enforced in the UK as a result of its recently expired EU membership and "eliminate practices that unfairly decrease US market access opportunities."

The UK government is set to publish its negotiating mandate for talks with the EU on Thursday before publishing its mandate for talks with the US next week.

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