The importation of chlorinated chicken is prohibited in the European Union, however, it is consumed in the United States, which is also one of the world’s largest exporters of poultry meat.

For years, the chicken chlorination technique has caused controversy on both sides of the Atlantic when the two giants sit down to talk about commercial treaties. Both parties justify their use or prohibition with the same argument: protect the health of consumers. But why does it generate so much controversy?

The technique consists of bathing the chicken after its death in an antimicrobial solution of chlorinated water to kill bacteria and other pathogens that cause diseases, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter.

The dangers of washing the chicken

The authorities of the United States believe that this solution is harmless for human consumption. But the European Union considers that the use of this immersion technique means that other necessary hygiene measures are not implemented in farms and slaughterhouses.

Is it a safe technique?

The antimicrobial solutions used in the production of chicken in the United States are approved by the Department of Agriculture and the agency for Food and Drugs (FDA for its acronym in English) of that country, which consider them safe for consumption and effective to kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria.

Chlorine is used at specific levels of concentration considered harmless and approved by the Department of Agriculture.

The National Council of the United States Chicken (NCN) cites several American scientific studies that confirm that the use of chlorinated water poses no threat to public health, but on the contrary, protects it.

He further adds that if these diluted substances are present in the final product it is so insignificant that it does not affect the appearance or taste of the meat.

The use of this technique has not affected US chicken sales to other countries, since the United States is, along with Brazil, one of the world’s leading exporters, according to the NCN. According to data from the NCN in 2016, the United States exported 16.5% of the national production of chickens.

Mexico is by far the country that imports the most American chicken products. Canada, Hong Kong, Angola, Taiwan and Cuba are other major export destinations for these American products.

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