US Poultry in a Flap Over EU Trade Issues

US - Recent failures to resolve issues of poultry trade from the US to Europe have been met with criticism by the US poultry industry, who say that there will never be a conclusion to the debate whilst the European Union keeps seeking a 'scientific impossibility'.
calendar icon 7 May 2008
clock icon 4 minute read
Photo: StockXchange

The US National Chicken Council have said that failure to resolve the U.S. poultry trade issue at the mid-May 2008 Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) meeting will once again demonstrate that the European Union is seeking a scientific impossibility. "Demanding conclusive evidence that there is an absolute-zero risk to food safety and the environment with respect to U.S. poultry. No scientific study on any issue has ever been able to prove an absolute-zero risk."

They say that the real world evidence is that "billions of people around the world have consumed wholesome, safe U.S. poultry for decades without any harmful effects from the theoretical risks raised by the EU. As the EU continues to move from being a net poultry exporter to a net poultry importer, the government measures to overly-protect EU poultry farmers from global competition appear to becoming even more strained." Adding that even if the EU were to accept U.S. poultry, EU producers would continue to be highly protected by the very modest tariff rate quota granted for U.S. poultry.

According to the NCC, European Food Safety Authority’s March 2008 “scientific opinion” that insufficient evidence exists to conclude that using antimicrobials can lead to the emergence of antimicrobial resistance is a clear example of the EU’s quest for finding absolute-zero risk. Further, the EU Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks and Scientific Committee on Energy and Newly Identified Health Risks in its jointly issued March/April 2008 report essentially concluded that “lack of available information” prevents a proper assessment of antimicrobial resistance via the discharge of treated waste water from poultry processing plants. In its search for an absolute-zero risk, the EU will always have a “lack of available information”. Thus, while the EU awaits the findings of conclusive evidence to find an absolute-zero risk on these issues, U.S. poultry continues to be held hostage.

U.S. poultry had been enjoyed by European consumers from before World War II until 1997 when the EU arbitrarily halted U.S. poultry imports due to the lack of agreement about the equivalency of inspection systems. U.S. consumers are the largest consumers of poultry in the world, averaging about 50 kilograms per person. U.S. poultry producers/processors benefit from world-class efficiency and quality that is unsurpassed around the world. U.S. poultry companies look forward to again providing European consumers with wholesome and safe poultry products.

"Finding an absolute-zero risk is a scientific impossibility and the EU insistence of such continues a trade barrier that will be impossible to overcome. More than a reasonable amount of time has passed for the EU to have addressed its scientific questions. It is now time for the EU to settle its internal political problems with respect to U.S. poultry and remove the unreasonable trade barriers on U.S. poultry. Permitting U.S. poultry trade to resume must be a top priority and result of the upcoming TEC meeting."

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