Food Law News - EU - 2008

EP Press Release, 28 May 2008

HYGIENE - Chlorinated chicken: possible end to import ban meets opposition in European Parliament

MEPs in the Environment Committee raised strong concerns on Wednesday about moves within the European Commission to lift the EU-import ban on poultry treated with chlorinated water. This ban, in place since 1997, has effectively stopped all imports of United States poultry meat which is generally treated by this process. MEPs speaking in the committee said the chlorination of chicken intended for human consumption is not acceptable for the EU.

A Commission representative told the committee that the subject was on the agenda for today's (Wednesday's) meeting of the Commissioners. The proposal before them is for a temporarily authorisation of 2 years for the import of chickens intended for human consumption which have undergone chlorination, but with special provisions including a labelling requirement. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has recently adopted an opinion dismissing risks from treating poultry carcases with chlorinated water.

MEPs in the committee put a question to the Commission (under Rule 187 of the Rules of Procedure), drawn up by Anne Ferreira (PES, FR), asking the Commission what action it intends to take further to the EFSA opinion. Does the Commission not see such food production methods are at variance with the relevant Community standards, and threatening to the EU's entire set of food production standards and rules, ask the MEPs.

According to Ms Ferreira, lifting the ban would be "totally absurd". She was supported by John Bowis (EPP-ED, UK), who said it would be "outrageous" and unacceptable, and degrade EU citizens to the status of guinea pigs. Bart Staes (Greens/EFA, BE) said the results of the chlorination of chicken within the US have been dreadful. Dimitrios Papadimoulis (GUE/NGL, EL) stressed that the Commission cannot ignore EU consumers.

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