USDA Gives Green Light to Ship Chicken From USA to China for Processing Then Back To USA
The term ‘chinese chicken’ has garnered a whole new meaning recently, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently gave the go-ahead to four chicken processing plants in China, allowing chicken raised and slaughtered in the U.S. to be exported to China for post processing. It is then shipped back to the U.S. and sold on store shelves and consumed by an unwitting public.
Whatsmore, the processed and re-imported chicken will not need a country-of-origin label nor will U.S. inspectors be on site at processing plants in China before it is shipped to the United States for human consumption.
Some food safety experts are being cautious about the quality of poultry processed in a country that is well know for its poor working conditions and avian flu scares. Some experts predict that China will eventually seek to broaden the export rules to allow chickens born and raised in China.
Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, in a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle said:
“Economically, it doesn’t make much sense,” “Think about it: A Chinese company would have to purchase frozen chicken in the U.S., pay to ship it 7,000 miles, unload it, transport it to a processing plant, unpack it, cut it up, process/cook it, freeze it, repack it, transport it back to a port, then ship it another 7,000 miles. I don’t know how anyone could make a profit doing that.”
American poultry processors are paid roughly $11 per hour on average the Bureau of Labor Statistics data estimates. Reports are circulating in China that the country’s chicken workers can earn much less – roughly $1 to 2 per hour – igniting debates as to whether or not the industry is acceptable and can be sustained
U.S. seafood has already adopted this approach. According to the Seattle Times, domestically caught Pacific salmon and Dungeness crab are currently being processed in China and shipped back to the U.S. all because of significant cost savings.
“…fish processors in the Northwest, including Seattle-based Trident Seafoods, are sending part of their catch of Alaskan salmon or Dungeness crab to China to be filleted or de-shelled before returning to U.S. tables.”
Charles Bundrant, founder of Trident, which ships about 30 million pounds of its 1.2 billion-pound annual harvest to China for processing says:
“There are 36 pin bones in a salmon and the best way to remove them is by hand. Something that would cost us $1 per pound labor here, they get it done for 20 cents in China.”
China has an infamous reputation as being one of the world’s worst health and safety offenders, esspecially when it comes to food production. Earlier this year, the FDA released a report on a Chinese chicken jerky manufacturer that created dog treats linked to over 500 dogs’ deaths.
We aim to spread awareness of the pending USDA agreement and stop Chinese-processed chicken from ever reaching supermarkets or school lunchrooms.