WASHINGTON – China's poultry processing systems are equivalent to systems in the United States, and therefore China is eligible to export processed, cooked chicken to the US, the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service reported Aug. 30.

This means China can export processed chicken to the US if the product is fully cooked before export. However, raw poultry used for processed chicken products must originate in the US or Canada, FSIS said. Currently, no companies in China are certified to export processed poultry to the US. FSIS said the agency is currently auditing China's slaughter inspection system, and that no chickens raised or slaughtered in China can be shipped to the US even if they are processed.

"FSIS utilizes a comprehensive, three-part system for both establishing initial equivalence and ensuring the ongoing equivalence of countries that export regulated products to the United States," the agency said."A foreign country’s inspection system must ensure that establishments preparing poultry products for import into the Unites States comply with requirements equivalent to those in the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) and in FSIS regulations."

Once a country’s inspection system is granted equivalence, FSIS conducts periodic reviews and audits of exporting establishments. Also, products are re-inspected at US ports-of-entry for proper certification, labeling, transportation damage and general condition. Selected shipments are inspected again for product defects and laboratory analyses to detect chemical residues or pathogen testing.

Chicken processed in China will not be used in the School Lunch Program. Products that qualify for the program must be produced, raised and processed in the US, its territories or possessions, Puerto Rico or the Pacific Islands.