Fox made the statement while discussing negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal with the US. The remarks were interpreted by some media outlets as a refusal on Fox’s part to rule out the import of chlorinated chicken post-Brexit. Consumer organisation Which? criticised Fox’s remarks, saying that measures like chlorine washing were used to make up for “widespread safety problems” that lead to high rates of foodborne disease in the US.
Chlorinated chicken is currently banned under EU legislation, though the US government has said it aims to secure a removal of the ban as part of post-Brexit trade deal with the UK. While the issue might be an important bargaining chip in negotiations, polls indicate that British consumers are not in favour of the practice: a 2018 Which? survey found that 68 percent of consumers are not comfortable eating chlorinated chicken.