Jeremy Corbyn has claimed that a US trade deal could lead to “maggots” in the food, and Labour has since doubled down on the fighting words.
The Labour leader visited the former Labour seat of Harlow in Essex, he accused Boris Johnson of “hijacking” Brexit so he can sell out the NHS if he is successful in the general election on 12 December.
Corbyn claimed that a trade deal with the US could lead to decreased food safety and animal standards by imports.
“Given the chance, they’ll run down our rights at work, our entitlements to holidays, breaks and leave,” he said, adding:
Given the chance, they’ll slash food standards to US levels where ‘acceptable levels’ of rat hairs in paprika and maggots in orange juice are allowed and they’ll put chlorinated chicken on our supermarket shelves.
“And given the chance,” he added.
They’ll water down the rules on air pollution and our environment that keep us safe They want a race to the bottom in standards and protection.
Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has been challenged on the claims this morning.
Rat hairs in the paprika and maggots in the orange juice?
@Keir_Starmer defends Jeremy Corbyn's claim a trade de… https://t.co/wap5D6rbGy
Asked by Sky News’ Kay Burley if the party was scaremongering, he said:
If we move away from the standards we enjoy in the EU, we move to different standards and I think the US standards are inferior to the standards we’ve got.
Is it hyperbole?
“It’s illustrating a point about standards,” he said.
The claims do not come out of anywhere.
In the US producers adhere to a “Defects Levels Handbook,” which sets out the maximum number of foreign bodies like maggots, insect fragments and mould that can be in food products before they are put on the market.
US producers are allowed to include up to a 11 rodent hairs in a 25g container of paprika; or 3mg of mammalian excreta (typically rat or mouse excrement) per each pound of ginger.