So, have you guys seen these recent articles about the recent USDA decision to allow Chinese plants to process U.S. chickens, and then export the processed products back here for sale?
- How China Got Approval to Process and Export U.S. Chicken (Food Safety News)
- Was Your Chicken Nugget Made in China? It’ll Soon Be Hard to Know (NPR blogs)
- Chinese Chicken Processors Are Cleared to Ship to the US (NY Times)
- Don’t Trust a Chicken Nugget That’s Visited China (Bloomberg)
- USDA: Chicken Processed in China Can Be Sold in the US Without Labels That Say So (Wired)
My main beef (um, poultry?) with this is the lack of labeling so that consumers can make informed choices. If a chicken product is processed in China, this should be disclosed so that we can choose to buy it or stick with products processed entirely in the U.S. From NPR:
Just before the start of the long holiday weekend last Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quietly that it was ending a ban on processed chicken imports from China. The kicker: These products can now be sold in the U.S. without a country-of-origin label.
And the New York Times says:
China does not have the best track record for food safety, and its chicken products in particular have raised questions. The country has had frequent outbreaks of deadly avian influenza, which it sometimes has been slow to report.
It’s kind of mind boggling, too, that it can be cheaper to ship chicken across the world and then ship it back, than to just process it here. Right now the agreements just refer to processed foods rather than fresh chicken. It’ll be interesting to see if any of the major U.S. food companies start coming out with statements about where their nuggets and other chicken products are processed — it could be a good selling point for those that stick with U.S. processors.