September 22, 2018

Rep. DeLauro Sends Letter to USDA Expressing Concern Over Chinese Chicken

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has written a letter to Sonny Perdue, the Secretary of the USDA, expressing concern over reports suggesting that the government is planning to let China export its own poultry products to the United States. Food safety and consumer advocates have long opposed such a move to import Chinese chicken, citing serious food safety concerns about food from that country and many deadly outbreaks that have occurred there.

Imported Chinese Chicken

According to the letter, Chinas General Administration of Customs Under Secretary met with a Chinese deputy director to discuss agricultural trade. DeLauro states, “given China’s longstanding and well documented food safety problems, it is appalling to me that officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service were not included in this most recent meeting.”

Scandals in the Chinese food system are legendary. A recent report by China’s own FDA revealed that the agency found more than 500,000 incidents of illegal behavior and food safety violations in the first three quarters of 2016. In addition, that agency’s top officials described the Chinese food system as having “deep-seated” problems.

Some of the food scandals in China include many deaths from tainted baby formula, produce contaminated with pesticides, and the use of steroids in pork production. Food & Water Watch issued a report last year stating that Chinese chicken imports were endangering public health.

One of the issues with importing chicken from China into the country is that the meat will not be labeled with the country of origin. So consumers won’t even have the choice of refusing to purchase and eat chicken imported from that country.

Representative DeLauro’s letter also states that Chinese food is compromised by regulatory deficiencies in that country. Heavy metals such as lead and cadmium accumulate in chicken tissue. China’s coal mining industry puts those toxins into the soil.¬†And antibiotic misuse is rampant in China. Chinese researchers found multiple, antibiotic-resistant genes carried in the country’s commercial chicken flock.

The letter ends by stating, “The safety of our nation’s food supply should not be compromised by politicized, quid-pro-quo trade negotiations. Allowing China to export Chinese-raised poultry poses serious risks to public health and consumer safety.”

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