November 22, 2017

Food & Watch Watch Wants USDA to Halt Chinese Chicken

In late June, the first shipment of processed chicken from China arrived in the U.S. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, issued a statement about this event.

Chinese cooked chicken

In 2014, China completed the paperwork to certify four of its poultry processing plants so they can export these items to the U.S. The raw poultry must come from “approved sources,” but food safety advocates are not convinced. The USDA has not disclosed where the raw poultry comes from. And the chicken will not be labeled, so consumers won’t know if they are buying products from China.

Food safety problems in China have been rampant. A scandal where companies added melamine to milk to hide dilution sickened more than 300,000 babies. Jerky pet treats imported from China have sickened and killed thousands of pets in the U.S. And the USDA recently proposed to amend the poultry product regulations for China to let them export chickens that have been slaughtered in the People’s Republic of China.

Hauter said, “Regardless of where the chickens were raised, U.S. consumers need to be concerned about chicken products processed in China for several reasons: There will be no USDA inspector stationed in Chinese poultry processing facilities to verify that the products are actually coming from ‘approved’ sources, China’s food safety system is still riddled with serious deficiencies, and because the poultry is processed, no Country of Origin label is required, leaving U.S. consumers in the dark about where their food comes from.”

Last year, Hauter released a statement saying that, “The PRC is still suffering repercussions from the melamine contamination of dairy products in 2008 that killed 6 infants and hospitalized 300,000 consumers. Recently, employees of the U.S.-based meat processing company OSI, which operates plants in the PRC, were charged with selling adulterated poultry meat to Chinese restaurants, including KFC and MacDonald’s. And let’s not forget the hundreds of dogs that have died from eating poultry jerky treats imported from the PRC.”

The USDA is going to conduct “intensified inspections” of these imports from China at ports of entry, which “indicates that the agency knows that the food safety system in China is not adequate to provide the protection U.S. consumers deserve,” according to Hauter. She added, “In light of the recent move to close the U.S. market to imports from Brazil because of systemic problems in that country’s meat inspection system, it seems foolish to start importing processed chicken products from a country with serious food safety problems and a weak inspection system. We urge Secretary Perdue and USDA to withdraw the proposed rule to allow China to export its own poultry to the U.S.”

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