Ambassador Johnson letter to the Sunday Times

Portrait of Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson
Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson

With all respect to Lord Rooker, given differences in how our two countries report on food borne illnesses and then analyze the data, it is challenging to directly compare numbers.  These differences mean we are often in effect comparing apples to oranges and as result, I do not agree with his interpretation. The World Health Organization is the only entity the U.S. Embassy is aware of that has conducted a peer-reviewed study that used comparable data on a global scale.  This study showed North America has the lowest incidence of foodborne illness in the world – lower even than Western Europe.

When it comes to anti-microbial washes, the European Food Safety Authority agrees they are the most effective and economical way to fight foodborne illness, particularly Campylobacter.  Campylobacter is the most common cause of food poisoning in the UK and most Brits contract it from contaminated chicken. In fact, your own Food Standards Agency has already approved anti-microbial washes to stop food poisoning in pre-washed salads sold across the UK.  Perhaps they should recommend including chicken in this treatment?

Millions of Brits visit the United States every year and I would wager most eat chicken while there.  Ask them and I’m sure they’ll tell you American agricultural products are safe, nutritious and delicious.  These products should absolutely be included in a U.S.-UK free trade agreement that will create new markets for farmers from both countries and offer more choices to British and American consumers.

Robert Wood Johnson, Ambassador of the United States of America to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Published January 24, 2020 in the UK’s Sunday Times.