Here’s a suggested text:
Dear Sir/Madam (Or local manager’s name if you can obtain it.)
Please do not stock substandard US food imports. I will not buy them.
I understand that the Government is refusing to maintain the food safety regulations we now enjoy, in order to open the UK market to a deal with the U.S. I am opposed to such a deal on grounds of public health, animal welfare, food security and environmental protection.
In the US there are no enforceable standards governing the rearing of livestock.
Chickens reared intensively sit in their own waste in cramped conditions. They become diseased and have to be washed in chlorine to kill bacteria. Salmonella poisoning is far more widespread in the U.S. than in the UK. One in six Americans suffers a food-borne illness annually. In the UK, the figure is one in 132.
Healthy livestock are routinely fed antibiotics. Eighty per cent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on farm animals. This contributes to over-consumption of antibiotics by humans, which increases resistance to antibiotics essential for medical treatment. Almost all beef cattle entering feedlots (used in industrial farming) are given hormone implants to promote faster growth. The practice has been banned since 1988 in the EU, including the UK. Little is known about the impact these hormones on human health, though research has indicated a risk to fertility in the foetal development of boys.
In order to keep down cost, pigs are reared in conditions unthinkable in the UK. Breeding sows are kept in stalls which restrict movement almost completely. More sows can thus be housed in the same space, and food intake reduced by about 30%. Pigs raised for slaughter are fed growth enhancing additives which leave some so heavy that they cannot stand up.
Processed food in the US can use additives that are banned in the UK.
Crops in the US are treated with chemicals outlawed here.
Labelling is less strict in the US than here. Country of origin labelling is not mandatory. We may be eating ingredients that we do not know about, such as GM produce. The contents of school and hospital meals are a particular concern.
There is a growing recognition that vast agri-businesses turning out the cheapest possible food are no longer a safe or sustainable method of production. COVID-19 has highlighted weaknesses. By mid-June, five thousand confirmed COVID-19 cases had been reported across 115 meat or poultry plants in 19 US states, causing closures which resulted in shortages and price-rises. If there are further spikes of Coronavirus, or future pandemics of unknown diseases, ‘America First’ will dictate the allocation of US supplies.
The longer the distance from exporter to importer, the more the air and sea miles, the greater is the use of fossil fuels for freight transport. Exports from the East coast of America to the UK involve around 2,500 air or shipping miles.
Nearly 30 percent of the food we import comes from EU countries. Most of our agricultural exports go to Europe. Disrupting our closest market – just 22 miles across the Channel – makes no environmental sense, and will cause untold harm to both farmers and consumers.
We are grateful for your role in keeping us fed during this unprecedented crisis. I am sure you share our concerns about food safety and security. Unless the Government maintains the standards that the UK helped shape during our 47-year membership of the EU, we will no longer have free access to the EU market from the end of this year. Please lobby the government on our – and your – behalf to stick to its commitment to guarantee a ‘level playing field’ in ongoing negotiations with the EU.
(Sources: Financial Times, Which, The Grocer, Yorkshire Bylines, Organic Consumers Association)