Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
Washington, D.C.—“This week, the first shipment of processed chicken from a plant in the People’s Republic of China arrived in the United States. This shipment comes after years of pressuring the U.S. to allow processed poultry from China, and is yet another example of the USDA prioritizing trade over public health. It also comes just weeks after U.S. beef was sent to China after a 14-year ban.
“To be eligible to ship to the United States, Chinese plants can only process raw poultry that comes from ‘approved’ sources, which are limited to countries such as the U.S., Canada and Chile. This means raw poultry needs to be shipped to China from those countries for cooking before it can be exported to the United States. USDA has not disclosed from which country the chicken products in this shipment originated.
“Regardless of where the chickens were raised, U.S. consumers need to be concerned about chicken products processed in China for several reasons:
- There will be no USDA inspector stationed in Chinese poultry processing facilities to verify that the products are actually coming from ‘approved’ sources
- China’s food safety system is still riddled with serious deficiencies
- Because the poultry is processed, no Country of Origin label is required, leaving U.S. consumers in the dark about where their food comes from.
“USDA plans to conduct intensified inspections of these imports at U.S. ports of entry, which indicates that the agency knows that the food safety system in China is not adequate to provide the protection U.S. consumers deserve. In light of the recent move to close the U.S. market to imports from Brazil because of systemic problems in that country’s meat inspection system, it seems foolish to start importing processed chicken products from a country with serious food safety problems and a weak inspection system. We urge Secretary Perdue and USDA to withdraw the proposed rule to allow China to export its own poultry to the U.S.”
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, [email protected]