hormones one use

The NFU has come under fire from the meat sector after its director of strategy suggested it would support the use of growth hormones and chlorine washing in livestock production.

In an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme on 24 January, the NFU’s Martin Haworth said any post-Brexit free-trade agreement with the US would need to ensure UK producers were able to compete with their American contemporaries on a “level playing field”.

Responding to comments from the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Bob Young - who outlined ambitions for the US agriculture sector to export meat to the UK - Haworth suggested that “used in the correct way” the application of growth hormones in beef production and chlorine washing in poultry production was safe. The production methods are currently banned in the EU but commonplace in the US.

“It would obviously depend on what consumers would accept,” said Haworth when asked if the NFU would like to see their use in the UK.

“It’s a question of science, and the science is clear on those two issues,” he added, before pointing out it would be “unacceptable if we were required to import products using methods and techniques we wouldn’t be allowed to use here”.

Haworth’s comments were slammed by the British Poultry Council and National Beef Association.

BPC CEO Richard Griffiths said the comments were “not representative” of British producers, while NBA national director Chris Mallon called them “a step backwards”, adding it was unlikely UK consumers would want to eat meat containing growth hormones.

“We stand by our farm-to-fork systems that provide safe, wholesome, and nutritious food for this country without the need for growth promoters or chemical washes,” said Griffiths. “When it comes to trade, we would expect the US to lift themselves up to our standards because we will not compromise.”

Haworth subsequently issued a statement, stating British food was produced to some of the highest standards in the world.

“British farmers are rightly proud of their methods of production; they ensure the public is able to buy affordable, high welfare food produced in a safe and traceable supply chain.”