Discussions have risen on chlorinated chicken as the UK government is set to open British markets to lower US welfare standards.

This has led to concerns of products such as hormone-fed beef and chlorinated chicken hitting the shelves of our local supermarkets.

But what exactly is chlorinated chicken and why are people worried about it?

Here's what you need to know.

What is chlorinated chicken?

Once chickens have been slaughtered and gutted out they then undergo a final chemical washing process.

This is to remove any harmful bacteria and the process is often referred to as "Pathogen Reduction Treatments (PRTs)."

Harrow Times:

Is UK chicken chlorinated?

No. The UK takes a more pro-active approach to food hygiene and safety which means it is not necessary to clean the chicken with chemicals after the production process.

How safe is chlorinated chicken?

The European Food Safety Regulator examined the use of chlorine treatment and were in agreement with the USDA, that “chemical substances in poultry are unlikely to pose an immediate or acute health risk for consumers.”

However, chlorine washes and sprays used in the US do help manage pathogens like salmonella and campylobacter and protect consumers from infections.

But the EU argues that potentially poorer hygiene standards elsewhere in the process are a health concern and that the chlorine wash could simply be used as a whitewash, covering up for lower production standards on the whole.

Harrow Times:

Why is chlorinated chicken Banned in EU?

The problem the EU has with chlorinated chicken is that antimicrobial treatments can be used to compensate for poor hygiene along the supply chain, particularly on farms for example.

The EU maintains that chemical washes are a form of quick-fix covering up for lower treatment standards, including lower animal welfare standards.

What does the UK poultry sector think?

The British Poultry Council is opposed to the notion of importing American chicken. Chief executive, Richard Griffiths rejects the idea of

importing chlorine-washed chickens as part of a trade agreement with the US.

“We are proud to produce wholesome, nutritious and affordable food for the UK population.

“We also know that British consumers trust nothing other than British chicken,” he says.

“The UK poultry meat industry stands committed to feeding the nation with nutritious food and any compromise on standards will not be tolerated.

“A secure post-Brexit deal must be about Britain’s future food security and safety. This is a matter of our reputation on the global stage.”