July 20, 2018

Chinese Company Buys Smithfield Foods

The Chinese company Shuanghui International Holdings is buying Smithfield Foods, one of the largest producers of pork products in the U.S. Food & Water Watch has released a statement about this purchase.

pigsWenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch said, “the purchase of Smithfield by Chinese company Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. is bad news for U.S. farmers and consumers, the environment, and food safety. This merger tightens the grip of multinational agribusinesses and Wall Street on America’s kitchens, as Shuanghui is partially owned by U.S. investment banker Goldman Sachs.” She states that a more complicated supply chain will “leave consumers at higher risk of food contamination.”

Since this single corporation will produce such a huge amount of pork sold in this country, the food safety problems on just a few facotry farms can end up in kitchens around the world. “In 2011, Shuanghui was embroiled in a food safety scandal for producing and selling pork laced with the banned veterinary drug clenbuterol, which is linked to serious human health risks. Overseas ownership can only complicate and shield potential future food safety problems from U.S. oversight,” Hauter said.

Complicating the matter, the part of the Food Safety Modernization Act that improves oversight of imported foods is still languishing at the Office of Management and Budget at the White House. In April 2013, Judge Phyllis Hamilton extended the deadline for FSMA rules to take effect, telling the FDA they needed to establish new timelines for implementation.

In addition, the bird flu outbreak in China raises questions about food safety issues. And thousands of rotting pig carcasses were found floating in a tributary of the Huangpu river, one of Shanghai’s water sources, in March. A Chinese farm admitted they dumped the pigs into the river. The carcasses carried the disease porcine circovirus.

Smithfield’s brands include Armour, Farmland, Eckrich, John Morrell, and Margherita, among others. The deal must still be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

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