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1 Dec 2013 - No to Chinese Chicken

You know how I feel about the importance of agricultural trade. Without the ability to sell our agricultural products to countries overseas, American agriculture would be in very difficult times. Yet there are exceptions to the agricultural export/ import community and this is one of them.

A few weeks ago, the Department of Agriculture ruled that poultry processed in China could be sold in the United States. It is an interesting ruling because the poultry must be born and raised in the U.S., Canada or Chile, then shipped to China for processing before being exported back to the U.S. It doesn’t make much sense to me but I guess labor costs are low enough in China to make it worthwhile.

USDA also said that U. S. meat inspectors will not be in Chinese processing plants, but will inspect the poultry when it enters the U.S. Jim Sumner, President of the U.S. Poultry & Export Council said “Believe it or not, it’s something we’ve been pushing for as an industry for several years, China is one of our largest export markets and has the potential, by far, to be our largest market and we don’t want to risk upsetting them.” I think, however, it would be far better to upset the Chinese than to upset American consumers with food-borne illness.

What bothers me are facts like these....

  • More than 50,000 children in China were sickened and four died in 2008 after consuming baby formula with melamine.
  • In March, for still-unknown reasons, 12,000 dead pigs floated down a river leading to Shanghai.
  • Avian Influenza, or bird flu, re-emerged in Chinese chicken flocks this year, killing 44 people.
  • This year more than 500 dogs in the U.S. and a handful of cats died after eating chicken jerky treats imported from China.
  • Advocacy group Food & Water Watch this year listed five questionable food imports from China: tilapia, cod, apple juice, processed mushrooms and garlic. The group said tilapia and cod are raised in ponds and dosed with antibiotics and growth hormones. Imported Chinese apple juice reportedly contains three times the federal limit for arsenic in water, and U.S. inspectors have found tainted garlic and mushrooms.

That is a very poor record of food safety. I feel that China has a great deal to do to improve its food safety record before we begin importing chicken from China. This is one time I would be against agricultural trade, and say NO to Chinese chicken.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.