Late last month the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the ban on processed poultry imports from China has been lifted. The chickens will still be raised in the U.S., Canada or Chile (the only countries approved by the USDA), but they can be processed in China at one of four Chinese poultry plants that have been approved to export poultry to the U.S.
Processed poultry is currently imported to the U.S. from Chile, France, Canada, Israel, and Mexico. These products, and the ones that will soon come from China, do not have to disclose the country of origin on the packaging.
Some believe the approval for Chinese chicken imports is simply being used to get China to allow U.S. beef imports.“It has been no secret that China has wanted to export chicken to the U.S. in exchange for reopening its market for beef from the U.S. (which has been closed since 2003 due to the diagnosis of a cow in Washington State with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.) Once again, trade trumps food safety.”– Food & Water Watch
NPR shared more scary news for chicken lovers, new procedures for inspecting poultry in the U.S. may also take a turn for the worse. “Basically, these changes would replace many USDA inspectors on chicken processing lines with employees from the poultry companies themselves. The USDA has been piloting the new procedures, which will save money and significantly speed up processing lines, in 29 chicken plants. As The Washington Post reports, the plan is to roll out the new procedures eventually to “most of the country’s 239 chicken and 96 turkey plants.” – NPR
The environmental cost of raising and slaughtering chicken in one country, shipping in overseas to be processed, and then shipped back to be sold, will be quite high. And many experts question if it will really be cost effective.
Even the poultry industry doesn’t appear to be totally sold on the idea. Toby Moore, a spokesman for the U.S.A. Poultry and Egg Export Council said, “I’m cautiously optimistic this is good news for our industry.”– Politico
Only time will tell what the full impacts of these changes will mean from Americans. Oklahomans wanting to find safe alternatives are encouraged to check out the Oklahoma Food Cooperative and get to know the producers of your poultry.
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