United Kingdom

Jamie Oliver-backed campaign to protect British food standards reaches nearly 750,000 signatures

A petition calling on the Government to protect British food standards from inferior foreign imports such as chlorinated chicken was last night nearing 750,000 signatures.

This newspaper's rallying cry to keep controversial US food products off our supermarket shelves has turbo-charged the response to the National Farmers' Union plea.

More than 600,000 have signed it since celebrity chef Jamie Oliver threw his support behind The Mail on Sunday's Save Our Family Farms campaign last week.

Our crusade to safeguard Britain's world-leading food standards has also received the backing of former farming ministers Sir Nicholas Soames and Theresa Villiers.

More than 600,000 have signed the petition since celebrity chef Jamie Oliver (pictured ) threw his support behind The Mail on Sunday's Save Our Family Farms campaign last week 

Minette Batters, President of the National Farmers' Union, last night said: 'The numbers of people signing the petition since The Mail on Sunday launched its campaign has been astonishing.

'After Jamie Oliver wrote his article last weekend, the numbers went through the roof. I think we are well on the way to having a million people before the end of the month.

'That will send a very strong signal to the Government about the strength of public feeling about food safety and security.'

Ministers have pledged not to undermine animal welfare, environmental and food standards with low-quality imports in any deal with US negotiators.

However, farmers and environmental campaigners were furious last month when a bid to enshrine the promise in law was defeated – not least because Environment Secretary George Eustice has previously described animal welfare laws in the US as 'woefully deficient'.

Up to one million chickens are crammed together in vast facilities on some farms (file photo)

Up to one million chickens are crammed together in vast hanger-like facilities on some farms. On others, tens of thousands of cows are housed in grassless outdoor pens. Most US states still allow pregnant pigs to be housed in metal 'sow stalls' and slaughtered chickens are sometimes washed in chlorine due to the number of bugs on American poultry farms.

US cattle farmers can also use steroid hormones to speed growth by up to 20 per cent – a practice banned across the EU since 1989. One of the drugs routinely used, 17 beta oestradiol, is a known cause of cancer in humans.

The petition calls on the Government to 'ensure that all food eaten in the UK – whether in our homes, schools, hospitals, restaurants or from shops – is produced in a way that matches the high standards of production expected of UK farmers.'

You can find the petition by clicking here.  

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