Our Readers' Opinions
August 22, 2014

‘No’ to ‘chlorine chicken’

“There will be no imports of chlorinated chicken from the US… I have prevented those imports for years and will continue to prevent them. No question.”{{more}}

Those determined words came from the mouth of German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the campaign for elections to the European Parliament earlier this year. They were uttered in the context of mounting concerns in Germany, and Europe, about the treatment of chickens in the USA slaughtered for export.

The USDA (Department of Agriculture in the USA) has admitted that many American farmers treat slaughtered birds with chemicals, including chlorine, “to help meet targeted salmonella and campylobacter reductions.” However, in Europe the process is different, contamination being prevented by using only cold air. One Belgian poultry industry expert expressed the view that the use of chlorine merely “removes superficial bacteria, not what’s hidden in the meat,” that is why all chicken must be thoroughly cooked.

The concerns over imported US chicken are not restricted to Germany, but are Europe-wide. However, in Germany, the feeling is sufficiently strong to trigger the ban and Germans themselves have adopted a term, “chlorhuehenchen,” to refer to the chlorinated chicken.

Those health concerns are not just restricted to Germany, for in the US itself, the Washington Post last year published an exposé of the American poultry industry, revealing the heavy toll that the use of chemicals is having on workers employed in the poultry industry. It must be noted, however, that organic chicken from the US is not chlorinated.

These revelations, taken from the Bloomberg Views, should be of concern to persons who eat chicken imported from the USA all around the world. Poultry exports are the sixth most important agricultural export from the USA, going to 100 countries, SVG included, and amounting to over US$ 4.7 billion last year. Interestingly, the US is second in broiler exports globally, being surpassed only by Brazil.