April 11, 2024

Food & Water Watch: Chinese Chicken Shipments Endangering Public Health

Food & Water Watch has released a statement from their Executive Director, Wenonah Hauter, about chicken that is being processed in China and shipped to the United States. Food & Water Watch has requested information from the USDA about this issue.

Chinese cooked chicken

While Chinese plants can process raw poultry and ship to the U.S., the raw poultry itself can only come from “approved” sources, such as the Untied States, Canada, and Chile. Unfortunately, the USDA’s 2016 audit checklist from one of the plants that slaughtered the chickens in Chile before they were shipped to China for processing “reveals serious problems at this first stop in the product’s long journey.”

Hauter continues, “The USDA’s audit of the Agroindustrial el Paico S.A. facility in Chile noted non-compliances in Brazilian inspectors’ oversight of the plant’s sanitation procedures, final product defect processes and food safety plan. One note in the audit stated ‘Dry meat and fat fragments adhered to large areas of the walls in one production area that had been found acceptable by the establishment sanitation monitors.’”

She adds, “It is disturbing to learn of these types of problems in the plant that slaughtered these chickens, before they were sent to be further processed in a plant in China, which has long struggled with food safety enforcement. U.S. consumers need to be concerned about chicken products processed in China for several reasons.”

No USDA inspector will be stationed in Chinese poultry processing facilities to make sure that the raw poultry is actually coming from sources approved by the U.S. government. In addition, China’s food safety system is still deficient. And finally, consumers will not even know that the processed chicken they are buying comes from China, since no Country of Origin labeling is required on processed food.

Last month, Hauter urged the USDA to reverse the rule allowing chicken imports from China. While USDA is going to conduct “intensified inspections” of imports at ports of entry around the country, that means the agency knows the Chinese food safety system is inadequate.

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