The threat of the Nineties BSE crisis means the European Union (EU) is prone to reject the U.S. demands it ease strict food safety rules, even with President Donald Trump threatening car duties if EU nations don’t begin importing more U.S. farm products.
With European food and farming exports to the U.S. worth as much as $12 billion a year over imports, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told the EU last month it should adapt its food laws to reflect sound science.
Europeans who remember BSE, nicknamed mad cow illness, will not settle for any lowering of food requirements, and no politician might support a trade agreement perceived as doing so, stated Johan Bjerkem, a trade expert at the European Policy Centre.
The EU forbids imports of meat treated with growth hormones or poultry washed with peracetic acid, often dubbed chlorinated chicken.
Washington shows inconsistencies — EU salad leaves are regularly washed with chlorine — and says EU guidelines are a cloud for protectionism.
Brussels answers that antimicrobial poultry washes mask otherwise far less stringent and hygienic requirements.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has asserted that the numerous washes are not a safety concern; however, don’t replace the need for good hygienic practices during the processing of poultry carcasses.