I read something today that made me absolutely livid. The Huffington Post is reporting that the USDA has given China permission to sell processed chicken products to the USA market without any indication that the product is from China. You heard that right. Processed chicken from China no longer has to be labelled with China as the country of origin.
Given China’s dismal record with contaminated foods produced in filthy conditions, everyone who buys chicken products should have serious concerns about this. China has widespread problems with contaminated crops, including food laced with heavy metals, toxins, pesticides and unapproved pharmaceuticals. There is also the issue of the recent resurgence of avian bird flu in China. The food quality problem has become so severe in China that even the Chinese no longer want to buy chicken products produced in China. Yet, according to the USDA, it’s not only okay to sell chicken products to the USA, they can now do it without informing American consumers that the products are from China.
Someone needs to remind the USDA that while proper processing will kill bacteria, processing does nothing to remove chemical contaminants. I have traveled in China and does business in China. I can say with absolute certainty that the Chinese cannot be trusted to run a clean and ethical operation when it comes to food safety. In general, the Chinese cannot be trusted when it comes to maintaining high quality food standards.
If you click through the Huffington Post article to the original New York Times reporting of the issue, that story indicates that initially the processed chicken will only include chickens raised in the USA and Canada, which is allowing them to skirt the country of origin labeling requirements. However, the concern is still with contamination picked up while the birds are processed in China. According the Times story, eventually the Chinese will likely be allowed to use chickens and turkeys raised in China. No USDA inspectors will be supervising the operations to assure that Chinese poultry in not substituted.
As someone who refuses to buy foods produced in China due to my own experiences with food processing conditions in China that would gag a pig, I am deeply disturbed by this issue.