What is the TTIP Regulation Doing to European Chicken Purists?

Chicken outside

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is causing another grumble across the pond. This time, Europeans are weary of America’s “chlorine chicken.”

Wouldn’t you just love a warm plate of American, “chlorine chicken”? Mmmm, right? Yeah, not so much. European chicken activists would rather not have any of America’s chlorinated meat, either. So, what exactly is this chlorine chicken that European activists are bemoaning? Most chicken processed in America goes into an antimicrobial, chlorine bath to rid the carcasses of bacteria, like salmonella. Europe stopped this practice in the 1990s for fear of the chlorine’s effect on human bodies. But the TTIP could “create the world’s biggest free-trade zone.”

The EU takes different precautions for eliminating the risk of foodborne illness in chickens. They start with the live bird. All flocks (the breeder and grandparent stock) are tested regularly for salmonella. If any chicken tests positive, the entire flock is eliminated. This method has worked well, however. According to NPR, “Europeans have reduced salmonella in their chicken to just 2 percent, but the process took 20 years.”

Apparently, though, the chlorine that U.S. raised chicken bodies are bathed in really shouldn’t be a public health concern. American processors use about a cap full of chlorine per gallon to bathe the carcasses, and then the solution is washed off. The American way of processing chickens also is a lot cheaper. James Sumner, the president of the U.S.A. Poultry and Egg Export Council, says the real reason Europe doesn’t want U.S. chicken is because it would pose competition:

“A study by Wageningen University in the Netherlands found it takes about a dollar in Europe to produce a pound of chicken, compared with less than 80 cents in America.”

However, European activists remain steadfast in their stance. The activists are saying that the only reason they don’t want U.S. chicken is because it’s a symbol for all the standards European citizens don’t want as an outcome of TTIP and these trade talks. And really, who can blame them?

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Image: Scott Woods-Fehr