Chefs and celebrities are urging the public to write to their MP calling for a block on low-quality food imports, as politicians gear up to vote on the Agriculture Bill.
In a video posted on social media, TV chef Jamie Oliver and fitness coach Joe Wicks were among those to warn of dire consequences if the government allows food such as chlorinated chicken to be imported into the UK.
Campaigners for Bite Back 2030, which is lobbying for a healthier generation, warn that chlorinated chicken is “the tip of the iceberg”.
Other concerns include milk from cows injected with hormones, hormone-injected beef, pork bred from sows confined to narrow stalls, antibiotic overuse, crops sprayed with pesticides that are harmful to pollinators, and food that is high in fat, sugar and salt.
All too often, consumers will not know what they are eating due to poor labelling, the group adds.
However, they are far from anti-trade, adding: “Our vision is a brand Britain selling high quality food all over the world. And if farmers from other countries can make the same quality produce at a cheaper price, then fair play to them.
“When it comes to food standards, let’s have a race to the top, not a race to the bottom.”
Farmer Jimmy Doherty says: ‘In response the government has said they’re going to set up a Trade and Agriculture Commission which is very, very positive for first steps but it’s focus is too narrow.”
Campaigners are urging the government to ensure that environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards are upheld in all UK-produced and imported products.
They are also calling for the Trade and Agriculture Commission to be extended to five years, and include recognised experts in public health, child obesity, animal welfare and the environment. It should also produce a report on every trade deal, which should be debated and voted on in parliament, the group says.
A pre-written letter crafted for MPs reads: ‘The trade deals we’re now negotiating could drive the biggest change in what British people eat for decades.
‘We welcome trade. But the wrong kind of trade deals could mean British farmers and food producers have to compete with products that would be illegal to produce here in the UK. They could also damage child health, as shown by past trade agreements between Canada and Mexico and the USA where obesity rates increased dramatically.’
The Agriculture Bill is due for its third reading in the House of Lords on 1st October, before progressing to consideration of amendments and finally Royal Assent.
Peers recently voted in favour of a clause that would require food imports to meet domestic standards.
Click HERE for more information on the campaign.