How chlorinated chicken STILL has bacteria on it
If chlorinated chicken is introduced into the UK the rate of food-borne disease could sky-rocket, particularly in the lowest-income families, an infectious disease expert has warned.
Dr Callum Highmore, a Research Fellow in Microbiology at the University of Southampton, has revealed that salmonella is often still present in chicken that has been treated with chlorine, which can be potential fatal to those who consume it.
Speaking on tonight’s episodes of Secrets of Your Supermarket Shop, which airs on Channel 5 at 8pm, the expert performed an experiment with host Stefan Gates, by adding salmonella bacteria to two pieces of chicken.
Dr Callum Highmore, a Research Fellow in Microbiology at the University of Southampton, has revealed that salmonella is often still present in chicken that has been treated with chlorine, which can be potential fatal to those who consume it (stock image)
He treated one bag with water for three minutes, the maximum amount of time allowed under US rules, and another with chlorine.
Dr Highmore then put the chicken under a microscope and showed that salmonella is still present on both pieces.
He explains: ‘You would think it’s safer, and there is a huge reduction in bacteria, when it’s washed in chlorine, but they’re not all dead and even a few bacteria can form an infectious dose.
He added that the US – where chlorinated chicken is sold – has ten times the rate of food-borne disease relative to the UK.
In the UK and EU, chlorinated chicken has been banned since 1997, but future trade deals with the US following Brexit mean it may be able to be sold in the UK again.
Chlorine is used in the UK to clean bagged salad, but is not allowed in meat farming.
What is Salmonella?
Salmonella are a group of bacteria that infect the gut.
They live in animal and human intestines and are shed through feces.
Humans become infected most frequently through contaminated water or food. Contamination is possible if raw and cooked foods are stored together.
Symptoms of salmonella infections include diarrhea, stomach cramps and sometimes vomiting and fever.
On average, it takes from 12 to 72 hours for the symptoms to develop after swallowing an infectious dose of salmonella.
They usually last for four to seven days and most people recover without treatment.
But if you become seriously ill, you may need hospital care because the dehydration caused by the illness can be life-threatening.
Source: NHS Choices
Instead, British farmers focus on stopping the spread of bacteria in the farming process, with higher welfare standards.
In the US, farmers attempt to kill bacteria at the end of the farming process by adding chlorine to the chicken.
Host Stefan explained: ‘In the Europe, the standard process for chicken farming is a lot more stringent than in the US, we don’t need to wash it at the end because of higher hygiene and welfare standards than the US.
‘Thirty four US states exclude livestock from federal anti-cruelty laws which leads to lower welfare standards.
‘When animals are packed together in a barn, bacteria like E-coli and salmonella can quickly develop and spread, while in the UK the stricter rules means disease levels are low during farming.
He added that in 2016, 450 people died in the US from Salmonella compared to zero in the UK.
Dr Highmore continued: ‘I think that if chlorinated chicken was allowed into the UK, it would allow for cutting or corners and an increase of infectious disease across the country.
‘It will see an increase in food borne disease across the UK and as chlorinated chicken will likely be marketed as cheap alternative to to UK chicken, it will probably effect the lowest income families of the UK disproportionally. ‘
In January, Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to the UK, said chlorinated chicken should ‘absolutely be included’ in a trade accord between the two countries.
He said Britain had ‘already approved antimicrobial washes to stop food poisoning in prewashed salads’ as he suggested the chicken cleaning process used in the US was no different.
The row over chlorinated chicken is likely to prove a major sticking point during negotiations, with the US adamant that it wants North American agriculture to be able to access the UK market.
However, ministers have rejected the idea of allowing US chlorine-washed chicken to be sold in the UK amid concerns about animal welfare standards during the production process.
- Secrets of Your Supermarket Food, Thursday May 7 on Channel 5 8pm
Source: Food Recipes and News