The EU's ban on importing poultry from the United States could be over if Trade Secretary Liam Fox gets his way. A cabinet war broke out in the UK earlier this week over American poultry, with Environmental Secretary Michael Gove vowing to block the importation of "cheap, chlorine-washed" American chickens.

The debate centers around American poultry-raising practices, which are drastically different from the methods used to raise chickens in the UK and Europe. Gove, along with former Environmental Secretary Andrea Leadsom, claims that any post-Brexit deal allowing chlorine-washed poultry and hormone-fed beef into the UK would dilute its high animal welfare and environmental standards.

Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who met with American poultry producers last week, insists that US poultry is safe-- although it appears he has an uphill battle ahead of him.

Brits fear our Frankenchickens

UK consumers have long been wary of American poultry, dubbed 'Frankenchickens' because of their immense size in comparison to British birds. The size of the typical American commercial broiler has tripled in size since 1957, according to an academic study cited by the UK's Daily Mail, while the typical size of the British chicken has remained the same. American poultry producers have accomplished this feat through crossbreeding and farming practices that many UK citizens find inhumane.

Peter Stevenson, of the British-based activism group Compassion in World Farming, told the Daily Mail: "This genetic engineering has created unnatural chickens which give you larger breasts or bigger cuts of meat.

These chickens grow far too large too quickly and they cannot move around. They end up sitting in their own waste."

This is one reason why US poultry producers wash chickens in chlorine. Another reason is because UK farmers are required by law to vaccinate their chickens against salmonella. No such vaccination requirements exist in the United States.

American poultry producers push back

Meanwhile, the debate over America's chlorine-washed 'Frankenchickens' has some US-based poultry producers crying 'fowl'.

Jim Sumner, president of the US Poultry & Egg Export Council, refutes Michael Gove's claim that American chickens are raised using inhumane methods, and told the Daily Mail that animal welfare groups simply have no idea what they're talking about.

"Sometimes these organizations do not have a thorough understanding of the process or scientific facts," Sumner stated.

Tom Super, spokesman for the US National Chicken Council, agrees with Sumner. Super insists that the chlorine used in the washing of poultry poses no heath risk to consumers because none of the chlorine is present in the final product. Food safety authorities in the US, as well as in the EU, have ruled that the chemicals used to wash poultry in the United States do not pose any health risk.

The UK's beef with American chicken, however, is strongly rooted in environmental concerns. Even though the chemicals used to wash poultry have been declared safe by the EU, the chlorine could potentially react with organic matter and produce carcinogenic compounds such as trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids.

Supporters of lifting the ban on US poultry point out that the stricter European methods of raising and slaughtering chickens increases prices; the average price of a whole chicken is 20 percent higher in the UK, even though consumers get one-third the amount of bird.