Ummm – Chinese Chicken


The New Potential Danger Lurking in Supermarket Chicken

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Processed-Chicken China doesn’t exactly have a stellar track record in regard to , earning a reputation for being one of the world’s worst offenders. In January of 2013, the FDA linked the deaths of more than 500 dogs with chicken jerky treats imported from this country.

And this isn’t an isolated incident, as more horror stories spotlighting China’s unsafe food supply have surfaced in just the past year. These include reports of poisonous fake mutton and sales of 46-year old chicken feet.

All of these recent blunders beg one very important question: Why did the just green light China to export to the U.S.?

Coming soon to a supermarket near you: Chicken products that were processed in China with no U.S. inspector present

Until recently the U.S. had a strict ban on the importation of poultry from China. Now, a recent decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow four Chinese poultry processors to ship meat to the U.S. is troubling news to those concerned about the safety of imported food – and with good reason. Food safety standards in many other countries fall markedly short of those in the U.S., a reality that has resulted in food contamination and health risks.

At this time China will be permitted to only export cooked products from chickens raised in the U.S. Chickens will be slaughtered in the U.S. or Canada, shipped to China for processing and then shipped back to the States. Sounds totally safe, right? However, critics predict it is only a matter of time before the government expands the rules, allowing products made from China-bred chickens to end up in American supermarkets as well.

Even before these rules are expanded, this decision by the USDA is cause for concern. U.S. inspectors will not be present in the Chinese processing plants to verify that the food products manufactured in fact came from U.S.-slaughtered chickens. Even worse, the USDA won’t mandate point of origin labels on these products since they are assumedly cooked from U.S. chickens. The bottom line is that consumers won’t know if the chicken nuggets they purchase in supermarkets were processed in China or in the U.S.

What Does China Say About the Poor Safety Standards of its Food Supply?

In a July press conference, a senior Chinese official involved in trying to improve food safety standards was asked if and when the country could conform to safety standards of the developed world. He said since China was still in the process of developing, it should base its food safety regulations on “national conditions” rather than on international standards.

So why did the USDA make this decision to allow chicken processed in China into our country? For a long time U.S. beef and poultry producers have tried to lift restrictions in hopes that the Chinese government would reciprocate by lifting its current ban on imports of U.S. beef.

Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, which represents big chicken processors in the United States, stated, “We certainly don’t look forward to any more imports, but we also realize free trade is a two-way street. We’re hoping the Chinese will look a little more favorably on our chicken products and on other U.S. agricultural imports.”

Hoping… that makes us feel better.

While this goal should be pursued, it shouldn’t involve sacrificing the safety of our food supply. American consumers are the big losers in the latest USDA policy ruling.

So how can you make sure your chicken was processed in the U.S.?

Search for organic brands that encourage farm-to-fork food. All food sold in the U.S. is required to have a manufacturer’s name and contact. Don’t be afraid to call manufacturers and ask about their food-processing practices.