The politics of food, plastic and BSE before and after Thatcher (with some leftwing vs. rightwing propaganda mixed in just for fun)

So I am hearing from some friends in the UK that people are up in arms about imported US chicken because it is washed in chlorine water.

Drinking water is treated with chlorine and you are meant to drink 8 glasses a day.

What an I missing?

@Sascha no chickens were harmed in the making of this post.

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I’ve not looked into the detail but I think it’s not so much the chlorine washing, but the production methods, and the chlorine washing is a meme which conveys this through it being needed to get rid of contamination.

Essentially US food standards and animal welfare standards are lower than the EU which is lower than in Britain, and while we don’t seem to care to much if people are mistreated here and allowed to die in their tens of thousands, we do care about animal welfare, hygiene and food standards. I’m sure it’s more complicated than that, but my point is it’s never as simple as: well chlorine is in drinking water so what’s the problem?


I’m interested in this. Could you give an example of standards being higher in Britain than in the EU?

I can’t give references but I believe pig farming is one example. Possibly compared to Dutch farming, but I’m not sure. Following BSE UK still has far more stringent monitoring and traceability for cattle, for example. I really don’t know about chickens though. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Interesting point. Blood from the UK is banned in every country as it’s thought all of us in the 80s who eat meat are almost certain to have the BSE virus in our blood. There is a documentary on the BBC and it’s unbelievable, Thatcher reduced school meal quality standards and we fed the kids reconstituted meat. That means ground up spinal cord and skull, including brains. With BSE we were not allowed to feed it to cattle and it became cheap burgers and sausages and we fed that to humans.

So UK residents have this virus/bacteria and prob gave it to our kids and it’s illegal to export blood from the UK now.

So the stuff that caused BSE is in us and wave 1 happened, they expect wave 2 (3 waves based on the 3 ways humans are made up of a gene) 50 years later. Already some folk dying from it and wave 2 is much worse than wave 1. It’s quite incredible how profit has caused and will still cause so much harm! But free market eh! BBC Documentary on Food Safety and Mad Cow Disease - YouTube Caution watching this will make you very angry !!


I find it hard to believe that commercial chicken farming anywhere is a sanitary process. Even what is advertised as free range is often not what many think it means.

If you consider the cramped conditions thousands of chickens live in and the mess they create and then considering that they are not skinned like other animals, I personally think disinfecting them is wise.

As a whole commercial animal farming is pretty appalling.


I think there’s an issue in the production process where faeces etc are part of the output, rather than washing the chicken before butchering it, I think the chlorine washing is needed because the meat itself is contaminated.

I’ve been inside a UK free range organic chicken farm shed (~20,000 chickens I think) on the small farm of a friend and it was really nice even though most of the chickens preferred to be inside they weren’t crammed together and the environment was well maintained. I’ve seen film inside other “free range” production facilities which are appalling. I’m not saying all UK production is like that which I’ve seen, I know it isn’t, but for such good conditions as the ones I saw to be viable the minimum standards can’t be that much below them.

PS finally sorted the boat engine :tada: I was getting worried that feeding it water had ruined the fuel injectors or something, but I really like this engine. It is amazing what I put it through and it is so far still going strong.



At the least, avoiding factory farming and trying to shop local is a good bet.

Well water better than tap in most cases but obviously not everyone has that option but you can get a water cooler and reusable 5gallon jug and fill that up for pennies at some grocery stores that is UV treated, carbon filtered, etc which is what I do for my job in the city.

A plant based diet and practicing veganism works for me but not everyone and I don’t judge but it’s an attractive alternative that is much easier these days. Of course you have to either eat a very well balanced diet or supplement and even meat alternatives are pretty highly processed (but so is most meat) so to be really healthy it’s best to go with a whole foods plant based diet, imo.

Also the salad leaves over here are washed in chlorine but nobody cares about that. We have thoughtless binary politics over here so basically if you were anti Brexit then you have to be anti chlorinated chicken.


I’d say people should be way more concerned about plastics.


She actually touches on the danger of chlorine in the full episode.

Not sure I’ll go plant based until I really have to. Being old I claim inabilitychange old habits :wink: and I doooo like steak I’m afraid. My worst sin though is teaching my son to love such things. I do though buy from the local farm shop and mostly try for organic where I can.

How much difference it makes I’m not sure, but I think living off-grid gives me some credits, during the summer at least - almost totally solar powered for half the year and a good input of solar for another quarter. With the Lithium battery I’ve just swapped in I think this will increase significantly because it soaks up every drop of power from the panels, whereas a lot is wasted on Lead Acid batteries, and you often have to charge from other sources to keep them in good condition. For anyone off-grid I thoroughly recommend looking at LiFePO4 setups. I’ve only just installed mine so time will tell, but so far it is a big improvement. Same cost for same usable capacity (daily typical 80Ah at 12v up to 100-115Ah in extremes), from one 14 Kg 120 Ah battery versus four 28 Kg Lead Acid batteries that give roughly the same usable capacity in practice.


Yes I have a well and the water is the filtered through a reverse osmosis system, but then you lose minerals which then need to be reintroduced.
I still prefer it to city water for sure.

I am not sure of the costs there but as a meat eater I do try to be conscientious (free range, organic etc) but the financial impact of that is not to be sneezed at!


Don’t get me started! I love steak and eggs, fried fish etc but I feel like I got away with eating all that long enough and I surprisingly don’t feel I’m missing out the last few years.

Just at your own pace Mark but glad it’s something you think about.

This isn’t so political to me anymore as it is a personal choice. Making it political or what not isn’t constructive to even opening up a convo on the topic.


My friend, fresh produce is CHEAP! And canned or frozen veg if you’re cool with those. I’d say the hardest part is buying in season otherwise a lot of stuff isn’t actually that nutritious and ripened with gases.

Meat is actually highly subsidized to seem cheap and it still isn’t. But again local raised etc is a great option. Good on you.


So does this basically boil down to getting chicken is now more expensive from the EU?

Just to add something of concern on this topic is that I really hope large scale agriculture can move away from monocultures like mass soybean production etc. We need permaculture at scale and more bio diversity.

That is my biggest critique of what is fed to animal agriculture that is also a problem in the growing alternative meat market eg. Beyond meat, impossible burgers etc.


You should really ask someone to serve you an unwrapped burger sandwich and an unwrapped plant-based burger like the Impossible Burger from Burger King. Take a bite of each and see if you can tell the difference. Always an interesting experiment.

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I wouldn’t want to eat anything from a Burger King like corporation so it isn’t an experiment I’m likely to do until there are small local producers. The burgers we get from the local farm shop are amazing, and we split one between the two of us. We eat them with half a bread roll and a load of salad.

I’d be very surprised if a mass produced product can touch them, but I’ll certainly try veggie alternatives from small local businesses if I see them. I have in the past, but it’s a while ago now.

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Not even for the sake of science? One bite?