The row between Britain and the U.S. over food standard has deepened after some of the U.K.’s leading grocers have refused to sell a raft of food imports.
Britain’s fifth biggest grocer Aldi said it would never sell chlorine-washed chicken imported from the U.S., regardless of the outcome of ongoing U.K.-U.S. trade talks.
It joins luxury grocers Waitrose and Booths in pledging never to stock products that would undermine the U.K.’s current food and animal welfare standards.
Chlorinated chicken has become a significant bone of contention in talks between the U.K. and U.S. as the two look to negotiate a free-trade deal after the U.K.’s departure from the European Union.
The U.S. wants barrier-free access for its farmers to U.K. markets, while a union representing 55,000 of the U.K.’s farmers has put pressure on the government to maintain the country’s current high standards.
Chlorine-washing chicken is accepted in the U.S., but has been banned by the European Union since 1997 over concerns about its effectiveness and its implications for animal welfare. The grocers are also opposed to beef which has been treated with hormones to aid growth.
A petition by the National Farmers Union urging the government to ensure future trade deals don’t allow “food imports that would be illegal to produce here,” including chlorine-washed chicken, has been signed by over one million people.
The NFU’s President, Minette Batters, said: “[The British people] don’t want to see chlorinated chicken or hormone-fed beef on their supermarket shelves.”
Meanwhile a separate petition signed by over 100,000 people has urged the U.K.’s other leading grocers including Tesco, Walmart-owned Asda, and Sainsburys to follow in Waitrose and Aldi’s footsteps.
Aldi said in a statement on Monday it had ruled out selling chlorinated chicken or hormone treated beef, while in June Waitrose managing director James Bailey said it promised never to sell products that didn’t meet the company’s own “high standards.”
U.K. consumer watchdog Which has also welcomed grocers committing to high food and animal welfare standards, ensuring that chlorinated chicken and hormone-injected beef stays off U.K. shelves.