USDA to allow China to process American chickens, then ship them back to the USA

Here's a potential food-safety issue that you may want to be aware of. The USDA has agreed to let chicken processing plants in China process American-raised chickens, then ship the chickens back to the USA to be sold to consumers. From Yahoo:

"Chinese chicken" will soon have a whole new meaning, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently gave the green-light to four chicken processing plants in China, allowing chicken raised and slaughtered in the U.S. to be exported to China for processing, and then shipped back to the U.S. and sold on grocery shelves here.

While the logistics are hard to imagine-if we can't safely leave chicken out for the length of a family picnic, how can it be shipped halfway around the world and back with no ill effects?-the USDA is doing its best to reassure both chicken farmers and consumers that the process is 100-percent safe.

"The Food Safety and Inspection Service's number-one priority is always food safety," Perkins says. In the official memo, the FSIS says that "all outstanding issues have been resolved"-a pretty big promise considering that in the past year alone China has made news for passing off rat meat as mutton, selling sausages filled with maggots, inexplicably finding thousands of dead pigs floating in the waters of Shanghai, and even having an outbreak of the H7N9 bird flu in live poultry.

However, Perkins adds that while there will be increased testing on the chicken before re-entering the U.S., they will not be doing any on-site monitoring or testing in China, a fact that Rep. Rosa De Lauro (D-Conn.) said in a statement is "deeply worrisome" for American consumers.

In addition to the concerns that this decision could open the door for even more unsafe practices, no country-of-origin labels are required under the new rules, so consumers won't know where their bird is coming from.

Almost ten years ago, after many issues with beef processing and safety in the news, I made the decision to only buy grass-fed or organic beef for our family -- both of which are held to a different standard than regular beef. Yes, it's much more expensive, so it's a treat when we buy it. But food safety is something I feel very strongly about.

Reading this article gave me a sick feeling -- especially the part about not having to notify consumers where the chicken was processed. I do think that the companies who keep their processing in America should be proudly stating that all over the package -- it will likely result in bigger sales for those brands and farms!

Thanks to Renee for sharing this article.



China food safety

The Food Safety and Inspection Service's number-one priority is always food safety. We've been assured and reassured by the USDA that poultry products from China will be safe.

China's leaders have vowed to

China's leaders have vowed to tighten the country's food safety regulations.According to the report Chen said the centre "had adopted a series of strict criteria in ingredient selection and processing to ensure food safety" given the country's recurring food woes.

Someone should start a Chang.org petition

Someone with some time and knowledge should start a change.org petition -I would sign it -I actually think those things work -plus then you can tell your reps how many people signed it -call the local newspaper, etc.

Let the businesses know

Along with government, I say vote with your money. Let the fast food restaurants and your favorite chicken products know that if they can not guarantee you that their chicken has never left the US, you will not be buying it. Let them know upfront not to even think about partaking in this. If they know we will not buy it, then maybe the economic pressure will just cause the whole thing to fizzle.

Perdue today told me all of their chicken is US raised and processed and they have no intention of sending chicken to china.

Look at the BPA issue. Enough people started looking for non BPA products, that non BPA is so easy to find now and is an advertised selling point.

Tyson's response

All of the chicken we sell in the U.S. is raised and processed here in the U.S. We have no plans to import chicken from China.
http://www.tysonfoods.com/Our-Story/The-Making-of-a-Meal.aspx

Carmalita Nicholson
Consumer Relations
Tyson Food Safety & Quality Assurance
Telephone: 800-233-6332

Glad about Perdue

I was very happy to read that Perdue wants no part of this. That's great news.

I was thinking too - how "processed" are whole chickens? If we bought whole chickens that were not cut up and had really had nothing done to them other than having the heads, feet & organs removed & being skinned and plucked, perhaps they'd have a higher chance of having been handled entirely in the US? I guess it will depend on the USDA's definition of "processing" as it pertains to China.

Nuggets

Nuggets, patties, canned, chicken for soup, chicken particles for flavoring and soup base, bones and parts for broth...if you do not eat this stuff, you do not realize how many processed things there are.

US Congressman

I sent an email to my local state representative and he suggested I contact my US congressman to discuss this important issue. I plan to do that today and I hope you will too. There is nothing worse than dealing with a group of Moms worrying about their kids. Together we can make a stand and make a difference.

Honey users

Honey is another food item that's probably best purchased from a local honey grower. Pretty much across the board brands of honey you buy at the supermarket/drugstore are most likely not honey due to China. Buying a well known store brand will not help, it's that widespread. Also, source of origin doesn't eliminate the China problem.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/03/07/173737521/nations-biggest-ho...

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-20/u-s-probe-nets-largest-honey-sm...

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/11/tests-show-most-store-honey-isnt-h...

One of the big companies- Sue Bee has a statement they don't use Chinese honey but what you actually get may not match their pledge. Very odd response they have if they do catch something from an importer. They won't report it, just send it back where it may end up back on the market later.
http://www.suebee.com/statement_of_quality
http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/honey-laundering-0

Real stuff so much better

We are lucky enough to get some from my beekeeping SIL when she visits. She lives out west, though, so that isn't often. We treasure it! My kids were used to squirting the fake stuff all over cornbread. We had trouble convincing them at first that less of the real stuff would be so much better. Taste and see! They believe us now.

I knew this

I buy all of my honey at Trader Joes. I HOPE that it is U.S. honey, as it says it is. But yes, I've heard that very little of the honey you purchase at the grocery store (ANY brand) is actually honey.

What the heck is it

What the heck is it then?!

There is local honey for sale at Banbury Fair in Bartlett (from someone in Wayne, IL). I think I'll be buying that from now on.

Fake

The "fake honey" has been watered down, then filtered and in some cases blended with corn syrup to the point that it no longer meets the FDA's standard for "honey." Under the standard, it must include pollen to be considered honey.
(Many people like to eat local honey, or honey from other parts of the country, for anti-allergenic effects too, but you lose those if the pollen is removed.)

Here's an article that discusses some of the stores' findings about who has real honey and who has fake:

http://www.peakprosperity.com/discussion/82036/honey-laundering-most-hon...

76 percent of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed, These were stores like TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A&P, Stop & Shop and King Soopers.

100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmacy had no pollen.

77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.

100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smucker, McDonald’s and KFC had the pollen removed.

Bryant found that every one of the samples Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops and “natural” stores like PCC and Trader Joe’s had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.

Chinese chicken crossing the ocean??

So it looks like there is absolutely no way of making sure that the same American chickens that are going to be sent over, are the same ones as the ones being shipped back... So who knows if we're ending up eating Chinese chickens here - and that opens up another big can of worms. :(

Without any oversight, it will be time to switch to 100% organic I think. And hopefully we can trust the American labels when it says "100% organic"...

There are so many implications here, from buying safe chicken to going out for dinner... Scary!

So let's ban together and figure out a way to stop this

Maybe get on grocery store/restaurant Facebook pages and ask them if they intend on buying these products.
If they are, ask them to label it as such.
Let them know we will not BUY any chicken products if they can not assure us they were processed in the USA.
If we don't buy it they will NOT sell it.
The disservice the government did and still does to the general population when they allowed the processed food industry to run
rampent from the 1950's on is a major cause of our healthcare issues today and is well documented in a book by
Michael Moss entitled: Salt, Sugar, Fat.

Tip of the Iceberg

I was reading several articles. This is the first step. If this goes well they are going to allow these plants to process Chinese grown chickens for sale in the U.S.! What are their standards for feed....and what kind of stuff is going to be in that chicken?

I agree!

I agree. With no inspectors inspecting anything on the Chinese side, we have no way of knowing what's happening there - what's being fed, etc. And there have been so many documented cases of one kind of meat being passed along for another kind? What's going to stop it?

I found some more articles this morning too:

There are a few more new stories this morning:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/09/china-chicken-usda/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/04/chinese-poultry-processor_n_386...

http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/2660552716001/chicken-processed-in-china-...

Not good news

Has anyone seen the movie Contagion?

Seriously, though, I would be so worried about refrigeration and the distance to process it and who knows what else is going on over there. Won't this make chicken more expensive? What is the point of this? In a time where it seems people are more focused on safety than ever and how more people are eating organic, and the rise of contamination and recalls, it makes absolutely no sense. We hear so much about how we should go to farmer's markets b/c it's local and we should know where our food comes from and stores are labeling where all the produce comes from. I think these companies are going to regret this.

That is absolutely

That is absolutely horrible!!!! Remember the chemical in baby formula in China too?
I might have to start raising chickens in my back yard!

Chinese food products

I have friends from Hong Kong and none of their relatives there will eat food products from the Chinese main land; they buy Japanese or US foods. When the Japan nuclear disaster hit, the price of US-produced foodstuffs skyrocketed, but they never even considered switching (one friend would ship large Priority boxes to Hong Kong filled with baby foods, etc. and pay almost $80 in shipping per box!). But the USDA obviously knows better...

heat treated chicken

From the bloomberg article sounds like the heat and eat varieties of food. Worried that it was the frozen chickens. Hopefully not that. Still very worrisome--what will be in the chicken nuggets since no inspectors on site. Any clue which brands are doing this. So much for employee the USA. How can this be cheaper. Paying Chinese working nothing apparently. Do not like this at all.

I fear too...

... that once that door is opened, more and more things will be processed there.

I too wonder how it can be cheaper to ship all of these chickens halfway around the world - likely on a barge, which takes 11-12 days to go from the US to China. Then it's processed and shipped back, and all of that costs less than simply processing them here? It's incredible.

Still reading. Bloomberg has another article about 46-year-old (!) chicken feet being sold in China this year. (Remember, Chinese eat the feet too. But usually not when the meat is that old.)

Scary part:

Chinese should never expect their government to guarantee a food supply as safe as that of the U.S., European Union or Japan. This was the message delivered by Wang Zhutian, assistant director of China’s National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, at a July 10 press conference about the government developing new food-safety standards. A reporter asked: When will China implement food-safety standards equivalent to those in developed countries?

Ugh!

Another notch in the belt for the questionable-food folks.

We switched to organic chicken within the past couple of years, and here's yet another reason to tout the benefit of organic meat. So that I understand correctly, if it carries the USDA Organic symbol, it's guaranteed to be raised/handled/slaughtered/processed/etc all within the US, right?

I believe so

I was just reading through the standards for organic slaughter again, and they state that organic meats "must be slaughtered in slaughterhouses which are certified organic." It gets into details about the meat never mixing with non-organic meat being processed in the same plant, etc. The USDA sends contracted inspectors to verify conditions at certified organic facilities.

The USDA standards are pretty dry reading, but this document is easier to understand and goes into what makes meat certifiably organic: http://www.mda.state.mn.us/news/publications/food/organicgrowing/organic...

More on this story

Bloomberg.com has an excellent article about this too with a few more details: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-03/don-t-trust-a-chicken-nugget-th...

The bad news is that, according to the New York Times, no USDA inspectors will be present in the Chinese processing plants (despite the fact that China has never before been allowed to export chicken to the U.S.), thus offering consumers no guarantees where the processed chickens were in fact slaughtered... Consumers will have no way to tell if those chicken nuggets in the supermarket freezer were processed in the U.S. or in China.

That’s a big problem. For more than a decade, China has earned a reputation as one of the world’s worst food-safety offenders. In just the last year, consumers have been confronted with a bird flu outbreak, news of sales of 46-year-old chicken feet and reports of poisonous fake mutton. These are not isolated incidents, but rather the most spectacular instances of a crisis that has become so severe...

Over on my Facebook, reader Joan pointed out that Chinese chicken-jerky dog treats were responsible for 500+ pet deaths this year when Chinese-made chicken jerky treats were shipped to and sold in America. If they cannot process dog treats correctly, what does that say about how human food will be processed?

A lot of Alaskan salmon is processed in China

Hi- I love salmon burgers, but I noticed that some brands tout their salmon as being wild raised from the Pacific, but the box says product of China. I was concerned about that, because I don't trust food from China. I found out that the salmon in many instances is caught in Alaska, but is processed in China, because labor costs are much cheaper there. At least 50% of the salmon burgers in the store are a product of China, and the brand that Dominick's sells, which might be Sea Beauty, is processed in China.