Chicken raised in the US may soon be processed in China, then sent back to US for consumption. Given China’s subpar food safety record, and for other reasons, this is a really bad idea.
The USDA, which has OK’d this overseas processing, will not even be available for inspections at Chinese plants. Even worse, there won’t be any way for consumers to know which chicken was processed outside the US, because China-processed chicken won’t be labeled as such. Also, what would begin as China processing US-bred chickens would eventually mean importing China-bred chickens, which have a very bad safety record. There are animal welfare concerns as well. Chickens raised in China would not likely be subject to new US animal welfare laws.
Even though this seriously worrisome scenario is now a likelihood, lobbyists are trying to convince Americans that it’s not going to happen - just not profitable enough, they say.
But who are they kidding?
US-caught seafood is already being processed in China, and at a savings of 80 cents per pound in labor. It’s estimated that chicken workers in China would earn $1 to $2 per hour vs the average $11 paid to US workers. As usual, the cost of adverse health effects and US job loss is not factored in.
Tell Congress and the Obama Administration you don’t want chicken bred or processed in China showing up in our supermarkets, restaurants or school lunches. Don’t send US chickens to China for processing!
We, the undersigned, are concerned about chickens being processed in China, with its very poor food safety record.
Another concern is that importing chickens from China would be just another way to get around the new animal welfare laws being passed in states, with California leading the way. This deal with China may also be the reason some towns are blocking a growing number of US citizens who want to keep a few chickens on their own properties.
Of greatest concern are the food safety issues - and that the processing of US chickens will evolve into exporting China-bred chickens.
New York Times and Food Safety News report serious problems with China’s food processing, some very specific to chicken products. First of all the country has been very slow to report frequent outbreaks of avian flu, and the FDA found its chicken jerky treats had poisoned over 2,000 pets, killing many. The fact that China has even killed its own children with melamine-tainted milk and sold infants mercury-laced formula should raise a lot of red flags.
Food Safety News cuts through the chicken process lobby’s nonsense about overseas processing not being profitable, and it knows that unless Congress and the administration take decisive action, China-processed chicken will be fed to US children and used for chicken nuggets and soups and in many other US products, without proper labeling.
Congress acted responsibly in the past when it blocked the Bush Administration’s USDA from allowing Chinese chicken to be imported. This recent action by the Obama USDA has apparently been initiated as a compromise with China after it slapped heavy tariffs on US chicken imports. Even though the compromise does not yet allow Chinese-bred chicken into the US, that may come soon, unless something is done.
China hasn’t yet proved a food safety record worthy of this responsibility. There are still too many unresolved concerns, not to mention what this will do to workers in the US who will no doubt lose jobs. And of course neither of these concerns address the new caging rules to go into effect in California soon. Perhaps this is yet another ploy to get around adopting less inhumane methods of raising chickens in the US.
Because of the negative effects on jobs, health and the treatment of farm animals, we request that Congress and the Obama Administration block any attempt to have US chickens processed in China.
Thanks for your time.