Chlorinated chicken – what’s the big deal?

Chlorinated chicken is a term used to describe chicken that has been dipped or washed in water that contains chlorine dioxide, prior to being packaged. The process is used widely in the United States as a way of killing potentially harmful organisms.

So is US chicken safer than ours?

Not at all. The process is banned in the EU, yet our food hygiene is the same or better than those in the US. In fact a World Health Organisation study in 2015 concluded that the incidence of Salmonella were four to five times higher in the US than the EU. And our chicken is only allowed to be washed in water.

How come our chicken is safer whilst only being washed in water?

hen and chicks
Happy hen and chicks

The higher standards of hygiene and animal welfare provided by our farmers must take the credit for this. Rather than relying on a chemical wash to produce clean chicken, our farmers focus on producing healthy chickens in the cleanest and most welfare friendly way possible.

So if US chicken is no safer, why do they still produce chlorinated chicken?

Price, this appears to be the only reason. Chicken in the US costs approximately 21% less per kilo than in the UK. I don’t know about you, but I would definitely rather pay a bit more in the knowledge that the welfare and hygiene standards during production were as high as possible.

Is chlorine dioxide harmful?

There is much debate about this, a European Food Safety Authority Report claimed in 2005 that poultry washed with chlorine dioxide ‘would be of no safety concern’. However in 2015 the same Authority added that there was a potential health concern for children, but taking the average consumption of chicken into account there would be no safety concern.

Even so, in 2008 a proposal to allow the use of chlorine dioxide for washing chicken was rejected once again in the EU due to the potential to “lead to the formation of chloro organic compounds, several of which are persistent, bioaccumulate or carcinogenic”

So there is some thought that the compounds could build up in the body a little at a time and also potentially be cancer causing. There is also some belief that the reliance on chemical use in the US rather than the better farming practices in the UK is playing a part in antibiotic resistance.

Just the tip of the iceberg?

cattle ranch
cattle ranch

This is the problem with free trade deals. They will only work if the food being imported has been produced to the same or higher welfare standards than our own. The US, in this instance, can produce chicken cheaper than us due to a reliance on chemicals rather than good farming practice.

They can also produce beef cheaper than us, partly due to the fact the use of man made growth hormones are still allowed in the US, but banned – rightly so – in the UK, the cloning of animals etc. We also have strict labelling laws in the UK, but the US can produce genetically modified foods without declaring the fact on labels.

It must be made completely clear that any foods purchased in the UK has been produced to a common standard, regardless of the country of origin and clearly labelled as such. The government must make this clear to all potential trading countries.

The UK has built up a global reputation for quality food production and animal welfare, this is the key point to be made by the government when arranging trade deals. Our produce must command a fair price and not be undercut by cheaper imports not meeting our clearly set standards.

So how do we sell a more expensive product to the US?

We promote our higher welfare standards, the better farming practices, make it clear that what we produce is a high quality product which provides great value for money. Those that wish to buy a product based on price is fine, these are not the consumers we should be aiming at. It is like the popularity in farm shops across the country, people are willing to pay a slightly higher price for a higher quality product.

It is just the same across all areas of retail, you have Matalan and designer shops, small cheap cars like Suzuki and expensive cars like Mercedes. They are not fighting for the same customers. In this instance, our agricultural produce is like the Mercedes, quality, and potential customers are willing to pay for it.

What do you think?

Please leave your comments below.


Would you adopt a homeless person?

Photo of homeless person sitting against a wall with head on knees
homeless person sitting

Top 3 charitable causes in the UK

2016 saw donations to charity totalling £9.7 billion in the UK. The top 3 causes to donate to in a snapshot over 4 weeks were:

  1. medical research 26%
  2. animal welfare 25%
  3. children or young people 24%

The top three causes in other countries


  1. Children and young people 22%
  2. Women and girls 16%
  3. Education 11%


  1. Children and young people 18%
  2. Education 18%
  3. Women and girls 12%

Australia and Oceania

  1. Children and young people 20%
  2. Health and Safety 13%
  3. Animals 11%


  1. Children and young people 15%
  2. Human and civil rights 13%
  3. International development 11%

North America

  1. Religious services and faith 12%
  2. Children and young people 11%
  3. Human services 11%

South America

  1. Children and young people 26%
  2. Education 15%
  3. Health and safety 11%


Only in the UK (2nd) and Australia/Oceania (3rd) do animals make the top three.

In 5 countries children and young people are the top charitable cause – coming 2nd in North America and 3rd in the UK.

The UK donates more to animals (25%) than 5 countries give to their top cause – only South America gives more (26%) to children and young people.

Why do we give to charity?

From research by CAF the top 4 reasons for donating to charity were:

  1. Personal values, ethics and morality
  2. Identifying with a specific cause/feeling passionate about a cause.
  3. Religious values and faith.
  4. Personal experience

What does this say about the UK?

Do you know, I’m not sure. I just think it’s strange that we are more willing to donate our money to animal charities than to children/young people, homelessness/housing/refuge shelters, education or hospitals/hospices. I’m guilty of this too, but I’m not sure why.

Thousands of people adopt an animal each year in the UK, I wonder how many people would be willing to adopt a homeless person? Give them the chance to get clean and warm. Or give someone refuge from a violent relationship? Not many right.

Is it the cost? Probably not, animals are not cheap to feed and care for and once they have an address the person will probably be eligible for some benefits until they can find a job.

Is it the mess? Again probably not, not wishing to generalise but some people don’t seem to mind letting a pet jump on the furniture or even sleep in their bed.

Is it because we judge homeless people? I believe this is part of it, yes. How many of you have seen a homeless person on the street and crossed over to avoid them? Commented about how they should get a job? Or thought to yourself, I’m not giving them money as they will just spend it on booze? Quite a few of you, right? I know I have in the past.

What’s the solution?

People are dying alone on the streets in the UK, a quick Google search suggested 440 people died last year (2017) and that there are around 250,000 homeless people and the number is growing. Is that a statistic to be proud of? People are very quick to tell you they have rescued an animal and expect praise as if they have single handedly solved world poverty.

I have yet to meet anybody who boasts about giving a person a home. These people are out there, they just don’t boast about it. We need to raise awareness of the problems, convince people to let someone use their spare rooms.

Why do people end up on the streets? So many reasons but, mental health problems and marriage/family breakdowns must rank quite highly. Local councils are having to cut back spending across the board. This obviously impacts on the services they are able to provide, mental health provision for example. The Government must reverse these cutbacks and put the money where it is most needed. Is it ethical to cut funding which results in a person living on the streets? Is it even legal?

The Government are very good at distracting people from the real problems, they will bring our attention to what they want us to know and cover up things they don’t want us to know – the job of the spin doctors. They may be saving money in the short term but in the long term things are going to get worse and they will not take the blame. They will blame previous governments for problems they have inherited, they will bring our attention to the money they have made available for something else but not accept blame.

I think it’s time we did something about this.

What do you think?

Please comment below and let me know your thoughts, between us there is a solution.

Thank you for reading.


All information found @ and and used for criticism and reporting only. All information correct to the best of my knowledge. All graphs made by Justin.