Would a trade deal with the USA mean lower food standards?

Published: 10th Dec 2018

International trade deals normally involve reducing “non-tariff barriers” which make trading between two partners more difficult. One example of this is setting the same regulatory standards on certain goods so that they don’t have to be checked when they move from one country to another.

In terms of food regulation, the UK (which follows EU rules) currently has “vastly different” and significantly more stringent sanitary and animal welfare standards than the USA. This means we can’t currently import certain foods from the USA as they don’t meet our standards (“chlorinated chicken” is a commonly referenced case in point).

A parliamentary report picked out some key differences as including: “the US uses chemical washes, such as chlorine, in its production process… the US uses growth hormones in animal feed… GM foods are sold without labelling in the US… and… pesticides banned in the EU can be used in the US.”

The government ministers responsible for international trade and environment, food and rural affairs both currently deny that there will be a reduction in food regulation standards after Brexit. Ultimately this would depend on what kind of trade deals the UK tried to negotiate after Brexit.

This article is part of our Ask Full Fact series on Brexit, answering your questions about Brexit and the latest negotiations between the UK and the EU.

You can see all the questions we’ve answered so far here. If you want to ask us your own question, do that here.


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