Contaminated Meat Making Its Way to the UK, Post-Brexit

by Vins
Published: Updated:

In February 2018, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that “Dirty US meat could flood into UK after a Brexit trade deal.” (Brexit refers to the separation of the United Kingdom from the European Union.) The Bureau and also the Guardian reported that hygiene violations in US meat production included “chicken soiled in faeces or having been dropped on the floor”, “diseased poultry meat”, “pig carcasses piling up on the factory floor after an equipment breakdown”, and “meat destined for the human food chain found riddled with fecal matter”.

According to the reports, the number of violations has been increasing. As Andrew Wasley of the Bureau for Investigative Journalism reported, “Data obtained by The Guardian and The Bureau details more than 15,000 violations at 13 large red meat and poultry plants between 2015 and 2017. This represents 150 violations a week.” The violations have likely been occurring for years, but are now being revealed by the Bureau and the Guardian.

Post-Brexit deals between UK businesses and US meat suppliers will not adhere to the more stringent EU standards for meats. Both the US and the UK are running a risk by trading and importing the contaminated meats. As Richard Partington reported in the Guardian in November, 2017, “A political row was ignited in Westminster over the summer after Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, suggested the UK should be open to the prospect of allowing poultry treated with a chlorine wash process, which is banned by the EU, as part of a trade deal with the US.” Both governments and industries are looking to make money and they don’t seem to mind overlooking the violations.

Sarah Sorscher, with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said that addressing concerns of salmonella contamination would require “substantial changes in how these foods are produced, right down to the farm level.” However, as the Bureau’s report indicated, instead of trying to fix the problem, the parties involved seem to be seeking to move around it.


Andrew Wasley, “Dirty US Meat Could Flood into UK after a Brexit Trade Deal,” Bureau of Investigative Journalism,  February 21, 2018,

Richard Partington, “Trump Adviser Ross Says UK-US Trade Deal Will Mean Scrapping EU Rules,” The Guardian, November 06, 2017,

City University London, “Risk of ‘dirty’ Turkey after Brexit If UK Strikes a US Trade Deal.” EurekAlert! December 17, 2017,

Student Researcher: Lindsay Sampson (University of Vermont)

Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams (University of Vermont)