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A protest in Germany against chlorinated chicken. 
Britain will not accept imports of chlorine-washed chicken in pursuit of a trade deal with the US after Brexit, Environment Secretary Michael Gove has said.
The issue has taken centre stage amid fears that Britain might have to relax food standards to secure trade deals after it leaves the European Union.
News reports said in recent days that the Government was split over the issue.
Mr Gove was asked whether US chlorinated chicken would be allowed in Britain as part of a future deal.
"No. I have made it perfectly clear, and indeed this is something on which all members of the Government are agreed, that we are not going to dilute our high animal welfare standards, or our high environmental standards, in pursuit of any trade deal," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Michael Gove has waded into the US chicken row
This week Trade Secretary Liam Fox was criticised for dismissing the issue of chlorinated chicken as "a detail at the very end-stage of one sector of a potential free trade agreement" with the US.
During a trip to Washington for talks with US trade representatives, Dr Fox said there was "no health issue" with the controversial practice, but said it was "too early" to comment on the specifics of a free trade agreement.
In his interview, Mr Gove sought to defend his colleague's comments.
"The Trade Secretary quite rightly pointed out that of course this issue is important but we mustn't concentrate just on this one issue when we look at the huge potential that a trade deal can bring," he said.
But Labour seized on the apparent rift within the Government.
Shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman attacked what she called a "casual and inconsistent attitude towards the importing of chlorinated chicken".
"Theresa May must put an end to the internal disarray in her Cabinet and set the record straight by publicly supporting British poultry farmers and committing to protect the British public from substandard food produce in a race-to-the-bottom Brexit," she said.
This week, the House of Lords Energy and Environment sub-committee warned that animal welfare standards could be undermined if post-Brexit trade deals left UK farmers competing against less-regulated foreign rivals.
As an EU member, Britain is not free to agree trade deals with any third parties, but striking a trade deal with the US will be a top priority after Britain leaves the bloc in March 2019.
Dr Fox's trip to Washington was aimed at preparing the ground for a future deal, and he goes to Mexico next. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has travelled to Australia.
The practice of washing chicken carcasses in chlorinated water is done to kill any bacteria on the meat after slaughter as well as to reduce the risk of contamination from the bird's digestive tract.
The practice is widespread in the US but has been banned in the EU since 1997. Brussels allows washing only with cold air or water.

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