Britain’s farmers have taken a swipe at Boris Johnson after he attacked resistance to US food as “mumbo jumbo”, warning that slashing standards would be “the work of the insane”.

The president of the National Farmers Union insisted that nothing is more important than what people will eat after Brexit: “This is not hysteria. This is not mumbo jumbo.”

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And they come after George Eustice, the environment secretary, hinted that acid-washed chicken – if not chlorine-washed – would be allowed on sale in the UK after its departure from the EU.

“To sign up to a trade deal which results in opening our ports, shelves and fridges to food which would be illegal to produce here would not only be morally bankrupt, it would be the work of the insane,” said Minette Batters, the NFU president.

Speaking to members, she demanded a standards commission to oversee rules on food production after Brexit and for high standards to be guaranteed in law in the agriculture bill. 

Ms Batters also warned that meat imports washed in “other chemicals” would be as unacceptable as chlorine – a clear reference to lactic acid, following Mr Eustice’s weekend hints.

“What is more important to our economy, our health and our environment than the very food that we eat?” she asked.

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