“Chinese chicken” will soon get a quite new meaning, because the US Department of Agriculture now gave the green light to not more nor less than four chicken processing plants in China, which would allow chickens raised and slaughtered in the States to be exported to China for further processing, and then brought or shipped back to the US, and eventually sold in markets.
Moreover, imported and processed poultry will not have some country-of-origin label on not will the American inspectors be on site at the processing plants in China, before the meat is shipped back to the States for consumption.
Food safety experts are quite horrified about the quality of the meat processed in a country notorious for avian influenza and a huge number of foodborne diseases. They also predict that China will soon seek to broaden the exporting rules and require that chickens are born and raised in China.
“Economically, it doesn’t make much sense,” explains Tom Super, the spokesman for the National Chicken Council, in the latest interview with the Houston Chronicle.
“Think about it: A Chinese company would have to purchase frozen chicken in the U.S., pay to ship it 7,000 miles, unload it, transport it to a processing plant, unpack it, cut it up, process/cook it, freeze it, repack it, transport it back to a port, then ship it another 7,000 miles. I don’t know how anyone could make a profit doing that.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics data estimated that American poultry processors get about $11 per hour on average. In China, on the other hand, according to some reports, chicken workers earn $1 to 2 per hour, which throws doubt on Super’s economic feasibillity assessment.
US seafood has already went through this process. As the Seattle Times wrote, domestically caught pacific salmon and even the Dungeness crab are now processed in China and then shipped to the US, and it is all because of the great cost savings:
… fish processors in the Northwest, including Seattle-based Trident Seafoods, send part of the catch of Alaskan salmon and Dungeness crab to China, so they can be filleted and de-shelled before they are brought back to US dishes.
“There are 36 pin bones in a salmon and the best way to remove them is by hand,” explains Charles Bundrant, the founder of Trident. They ship 30 million pounds of the 1.2 billion-pound annual harvest to China for further processing. “Something that would cost us $1 per pound labor here, they get it done for 20 cents in China.”
China earned the infamous reputation of being one of world’s worst food safety offenders. At the beginning of this year, the FDA releases a report based on th Chinese chicken manufacturer that produced dog treats associated with more than 500 dogs’ deaths.
Food Safety News struggles to spread the awareness of the pending USDA agreement and stop this whole process of taking chicken to China, ban this Chinese processed chicken and stop it from ending up on supermarket shelves or school lunchrooms.