By John Wilkes
US meat industry bosses have hit back at a series of articles published in The Guardian which they said were ‘intent on disrupting US/UK agricultural trade’.
Barry Carpenter, president and chief executive of the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), the oldest and largest trade association representing US packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey, rebutted the allegations made in the newspaper’s ‘Animals farmed’ series.
Mr Carpenter said: “While an alarmist series from the The Guardian [February 21] pretends to be journalism, in reality it is an effort to block US meat and poultry from entering Great Britain.”
The Guardian approached NAMI for background on salmonella for an article ultimately titled ‘Dirty meat: shocking hygiene failings discovered in US pig and chicken plants’.
The feature formed part of the series ‘examining the global impact of intensive farming practices and exploring sustainable solutions’.
Over two years, ‘Animals farmed’ will benefit from £640,000 in funding from the Open Philanthropy Project registered in San Francisco.
The donation aims ‘to support increased journalism by The Guardian on factory farming and farm animal cruelty’.
Mr Carpenter contends US meat inspectors’ discovery and recordation of incidents during processing prevented problems in the food chain and ‘shows the US system works’.
He said: “Had reporters looked deeply at the Center for Disease Control data and done some simple math, they would have realised 99.999 per cent of meals in the US are consumed safely.
“If the The Guardian wants to oppose meat and poultry trade with the US, they should just be honest about it. The facts show the US and UK produce meat and poultry which meets high food safety standards and this should encourage trade between our nations and reassure our citizens.”
Jim Monroe, senior communications director at the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), endorsed NAMI’s stance.
NPPC contested claims of malpractice on behalf of 60,000 US pork producers.
Mr Monroe added: “The US is home to the most competitive pork industry in the world. We produce the safest, most affordable and highest quality pork in the world.”
“We have earned this position by establishing and maintaining the highest standards for food safety and animal care.”
Mr Monroe voiced US pork industry enthusiasm for a stronger trade relationship with the UK ‘as long as it is on a level playing field and based on international standards’.
NAMI submitted a letter to the editor responding to The Guardian claims.
A Guardian news and media spokesman said: "This is an important series focused on issues around modern factory farming, food production and animal welfare which seeks to interrogate global practices in a fair and measured manner."