Poultry Industry Urges USTR To “Resolutely” Pursue Action Against European Ban on American Poultry

October 24, 2012
Washington, D.C.

CONTACTS:  Richard L. Lobb, NCC, (202) 296-2622; Sherrie Rosenblatt, NTF, (202) 898-0100; Toby Moore, (USAPEEEC), (770) 413-0006


The American poultry industry has urged U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk to “fully and resolutely pursue” a World Trade Organization (WTO) action against European Union rules that effectively block American poultry from the European market.

“The injustice against U.S. poultry has continued for far too long, and it is time to begin correct that injustice,” the presidents of the National Chicken Council (NCC), National Turkey Federation (NTF), and USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC)  told Kirk’s agency in a letter.  “(We) encourage USTR to fully and resolutely pursue the dispute settlement process,” they wrote.

The EU bans U.S. poultry that has been processed using chlorinated water, which helps control potentially pathogenic microorganisms and is considered safe and effective by U.S. authorities.  The EU adopted its policy in 1997 after other barriers to U.S. poultry began to crumble under the pressure of trade liberalization.  The industry estimates that the policy prevents it from developing a market in Europe worth about $240 million for chicken and $60 million for turkey and duck.

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), and the EU’s Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) and Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) cleared the way in 2008 for approval of the use of four pathogen-reducing treatments (PRT’s) -- chlorine dioxide, acidified sodium chlorite, trisodium phosphate, and peroxyacids --  finding them safe and effective.  The European Commission – the EU’s executive branch – tentatively approved the use of the PRT’s but was overruled by representatives of national governments.  USTR subsequently announced that it would file an action under the WTO dispute resolution process.

 WTO rules require that sanitary measures must be based on sound science and appropriate risk assessments to make sure they are employed fairly, justifiable, and without discrimination, the industry representatives noted.

 “To date, the EU has conducted no risk assessment to justify the ban on U.S. poultry,” wrote George Watts, president of NCC; Joel Brandenberger of NTF; and James H. Sumner of USAPEEC, responding to USTR’s request for comments.   

 “The EU has not been able to demonstrate nor justify why the use of PRT’s is not scientifically acceptable and why a politically expedient decision should be acceptable,” they wrote.  “Pursuing resolution of the issues through the WTO dispute settlement process may not only prove to restore U.S. poultry exports to the EU but, equally important, will promote and reinforce the critical WTO principles that address the international rules of trade and will provide for a more predictable and fairer opportunity for agricultural exports to participate in the world market.”

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens.  Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

The National Turkey Federation is the advocate for all segments of the U.S. turkey industry, providing services and conducting activities, which increase demand for its members’ products and protect and enhance the ability to effectively and profitably provide wholesome, high quality, nutritious turkey products.

The USA Poultry and Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) is an industry organization that promotes the export of U.S. poultry and egg products around the world.  Its member companies account for more than 95 percent of all U.S. poultry and egg exports.