A new shipping and processing policy allowing chickens raised and slaughtered in the U.S. to be shipped to China for processing could have a significant health and safety impact.
Working with four food processing plants in China, the U.S. Department Of Food And Agriculture recently decided that these plants will, in 2016, be allowed to receive and process shipments of U.S. raised chickens before shipping them back to the United States for consumption.
To make matters worse, chicken imported through this method will not require a country of origin label, nor will there be U.S. food inspectors working on-site to ensure that U.S. health and safety regulations are met.
Many experts are worried that this could lead to a decline in the quality of chicken available for purchase in the U.S., and that China will use this deal as leverage to push for chicken raised and slaughtered in China to be allowed into the U.S. market.
It’s Already Being Done With Seafood
According to the Seattle Times, domestically caught Pacific salmon and Dungeness crab are being processed in China and shipped back to the U.S. because of significant cost savings.
“There are 36 pin bones in a salmon and the best way to remove them is by hand,” said Charles Bundrant, founder of Trident, which ships about 30 million pounds of its 1.2 billion-pound annual harvest to China for processing. “Something that would cost us $1 per pound labor here, they get it done for 20 cents in China.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics data estimates that American poultry processors are paid roughly $11 per hour on average. In China, reports have circulated that the country’s chicken workers can earn significantly less—$1 to 2 per hour.
Poor Safety Records
China’s food safety system, which is said to be decades behind America’s, is highly questionable given some of the more recent food safety scandals that have surfaced in the country. (source)
- More than 300,000 Chinese children have suffered illness, and several have died, from melamine-tainted milk powder.
- Dangerously high levels of mercury have been found in Chinese baby formula.
- More than $1 million worth of rat and other small mammal meat has been sold to Chinese consumers as lamb.
Knowing all of this, would you rather buy your chicken from a local farm or one that’s been processed in China?
Look only for whole chicken from a source you trust and never buy cooked chicken parts from ANY fast food joint.