Poultry imports from China cause flap

by Meat&Poultry staff
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WASHINGTON – In the aftermath of several high-profile incidents of food contamination in China, food-safety advocates in the United States are alarmed about a decision made by the Obama administration that allows chicken processed in China to be sold in the US, according to a Bloomberg report. The US Department of Agriculture indicates it plans to allow poultry slaughtered in the US and Canada to be processed in China and returned to the US for consumption.

Critics vow to fight this decision, which they say puts consumers at risk due to lax Chinese food-processing oversight. In a Sept. 16 letter to US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Sen. Charles Schumer wrote “The Chinese food-safety system has had significant failures in the enforcement of its food-safety laws and regulations.”

In recent months, China has suffered an outbreak of avian influenza in its chicken flocks and in March, Shanghai authorities retrieved more than 11,000 dead pigs floating in a river, among other food-safety events that are causing concern.

But the USDA relayed through its fact sheet that “Consumers should know that any processed poultry from China will be produced under equivalent food-safety standards and conditions as U.S. poultry.”
At present, the US government allows Canada, Chile, France and Israel to export processed poultry to the US. Meanwhile, US poultry producers say just about all the chicken eaten in the US will still be produced and processed domestically.

Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, said, “Ninety-nine percent of the chicken we consume here is hatched, raised and processed in the US. We don’t expect that to change any time soon.”
Last year, the US exported $354.1 million worth of poultry products to China, representing about 7 percent of total US poultry exports, according to Census Bureau data. At present, the US doesn’t import Chinese poultry. Tyson Foods Inc., Sanderson Farms Inc. and McDonald’s Corp. spokesmen said their companies don’t plan to import processed chicken from China.

Regardless of assurances, Schumer has asked USDA for additional audits of Chinese plants and more inspections of US meat imports. China must now identify companies that will process imported poultry, said Stacy Kish, a spokeswoman for the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Processed chicken from China must be labeled as a product of China, according to the agency.

In 2004, China asked USDA to audit its processing plants so poultry could be exported, according to the agency. In 2009, the US Congress lifted a ban on Chinese-processed poultry. After a final audit of China’s plants in March, USDA agreed in August that China’s facilities were equivalent to those in the US. According to the agreement, chicken sent to China for processing must be raised and slaughtered in either the US or Canada, and all poultry must be fully cooked at least 165.2°F before being delivered back to the US for consumption. USDA inspections will take place at US borders, while agency auditors will audit China’s poultry processing system annually.
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READER COMMENTS (18)

By faye davis 9/6/2014 8:32:26 PM
I along with many other Americans find it appaling that our food is being processed in other countries when it takes jobs away from Americans and we are getting put at health risk. It seems really stupid to grow it here and send it somewhere else for handling and then sent back to the US. Bring it back to the US.

By Carol DeMeola 8/20/2014 3:42:18 PM
If the USDA allows this then I will no longer buy chicken from supermarkets and will only buy from a local farmer. Thank goodness I live in a rural area.

By kat 8/17/2014 12:26:13 PM
I think any and all food from other countries should be labeled that they are from those countries. When I find out besides Tyson who else is buying chicken and having it imported I will never buy from them again.

By corrine 8/15/2014 7:50:47 AM
how do we know the co that are buying this chickens in what food that they are in?

By Bernt ebbesson 8/6/2014 5:05:45 PM
My family will only buy meats rated and processed in the US.

By lorenzo ramos 8/4/2014 3:20:42 PM
I will avoid any company that process chicken in china.come on folks do we need to do this? Its jobs and safety. If they like china that much then leave and move there.!!!!!!!!!

By lorenzo ramos 8/4/2014 3:20:07 PM
To Mr Wang yu .there are no good product from china.substandard only if you like china move there .we doint need you here in the usa.

By lorenzo ramos 8/4/2014 3:12:23 PM
I will avoid any company that process chicken in china.come on folks do we need to do this? Its jobs and safety. If they like china that much then leave and move there.!!!!!!!!!

By kaye 7/31/2014 5:39:38 PM
I am stunned to read this. Pets and even BABIES have been killed by food from China. 11000 dead pigs floating around and China recently purchased Smithfield here in NC-very scary!!! I will never buy Tyson chicken again. I want the food I eat to come from MY country not a country that cares only about our dollar, not our people. I want it grown here, made here. Everyone says there's no jobs-there would be if things were HERE not china

By Roy and Donna Fosback 7/25/2014 11:51:18 PM
As Americans, we want beef,pork,poultry and fish that only comes from and is processed in the USA or Canada. All that information should be boldly printed on the package. Consumers are asking more questions and getting smarter about what they buy. We certainly are.

By Sheila couch 6/11/2014 12:19:35 PM
China imported pet products that killed our pets and made many sick. Now you want to trust them with our chicken? Our pet aren't enough now you want to kill our children who consume most of the frozen chicken. Are you kidding me.

By mary holton 6/4/2014 4:20:36 PM
My family is appalled to hear that poultry is being sent to china for processing and then sent back to the u.s. for the american people. we have enough problems with sanitation and diseases here. I do not want anything from china let alone my poultry or seafood. What is wrong with this country. We have been out sourced to again to the lowest of an all time low. from, A disgusted american family

By nancy 4/12/2014 11:49:27 AM
it is very hard to trust china with our food because they are still poisoning our pets with the treats that have been imported from there. their environment has been polluted from lack of intelligent regulation and working conditions for their people are cramped. workers rights are violated. until these conditions are changed, we as americans need to be very careful as to what we buy from china or has been processed in china.

By Consumer 3/4/2014 11:41:17 AM
If China imprisons their own journalists for reporting on business practices in China, how can we expect Chinese food inspectors to be free to do their job unhindered. We can't even do that here! And while the product will be labeled as a product of China when it is received at further processing plants in the US, the new products will be American made and there will be no way of knowing where it was processed. Processed chicken is officially off my family's menu. The American poultry industry should flex their lobbying muscle to protect their market.

By Mark 3/1/2014 5:42:04 AM
The best equipment and processing protocols are only as good as the people behind them. Given a recent history that includes food adulteration and counterfeiting, I don't think I will be buying chicken or pork anytime soon.

By Wang Yu 2/28/2014 6:36:27 PM
You know Chinese consumers dislike breast meat while it is best parts for Americans and Europeans. Nine Allian has US import registrations. We offer our breast meat either as human foods or pet foods. We belief our best safety pholosphy and quality.There are really good products from China.

By Wang Yu 2/28/2014 6:31:52 PM
I have inention t buy canned poultry as dog food. Can you introduce me interest to those who have interest to sell to China? March 11-14, I shall be in Orlando for Global Pet Expo. Together, I bring a high ranking delegation from Nine Aliian, Shandong Province, who is the largest exporter for poultry meat from China to EU, Japan,and other countries. I shall be in Washington DC March 15 to 16 2014. We are open to discuss the issue to clarify the worrysome from US consumers. Since year 1981, I started to import Turkey breeders from Sonoma, California. Later we import AA broiler breeders. Either buy or not buy from China, is the right of US consumers. We appreciate it. However, US consumers need full picture and balanced understanding about Chinese produced poultry.

By Karen Davis 2/28/2014 2:53:03 PM
Chinese chicken production is horrible, but so is all chicken production including in the U.S. Consumer Reports (Feb 2014) found 97 percent of 300 chicken breasts purchased in e U.S. food stores contaminated with salmonella and other pathogens. When people eat animals raised and slaughtered in filth and misery, they are asking for trouble. It doesn't matter which country. If you want to protect yourself and your family, choose vegan foods and get the slaughterhouse - Chinese & American - out of your kitchen and out of your system. That's the solution. Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns