European poultry producers are reportedly using a chlorine washing process on exported chicken. However, this method of cleaning used in the US has led to a de facto ban on American sales in the EU, reports the Financial Times.
According to EU regulations, chicken meat for domestic consumption must be cleaned using water of drinking quality. US poultry meat is washed in a chlorine solution and so no genuine US poultry has been eaten in EU states for 11 years.
However, the Financial Times reports that they have seen internal documents from the European Commission which show that chlorine washing is permitted for poultry being exported from the EU.
â€œThe French use [chlorine washing] for exports to Saudi Arabia. This fact has been concealed. Not once has it been mentioned in all the Commission meetings on this subject,â€ said a senior Commission official pushing to change the rules. â€œThis is all about protecting vested interests.â€
Crisis of confidence
The revelation may exacerbate a crisis of confidence in the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC), set up to harmonise regulations between the two big trading blocs. Washington recently said the lifting of the de facto ban was key to the viability of the TEC.
GÃ¼nter Verheugen, the industry commissioner, has been pressing US claims to drop the de facto ban. He has given warning that failure to do so could undermine the TEC, which promises vast regulatory savings for business, reports the Financial Times.
The European Food Safety Agency has found that chlorine washing â€œdoes not indicate a safety concernâ€. An opinion by the Commission’s lawyers, seen by the Financial Times, says that on this basis, the import bar breaches World Trade Organisation rules.