It was revealed by the Food Safety News that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is going to begin a program where U.S. chickens will be exported to China for processing before being imported back via the sea to the U.S for human consumption.
This sent alarm bells ringing and Americans questioned the wisdom in this new program.
As it is a known fact that China has substandard food safety records also the U.S do not have any intention of having an official from the USDA permanently station in China to monitor the processing of the chicken and to ensure strict adherence with its standards.
Another worry is that the processed chicken will not be branded as such, so Americans will have the chicken that had been processed in China.
It has been argued by lobbyists and chicken industry proponents that it would not make economic sense for U.S. Companies to ship chicken to China for processing.
The spokesman for the National Chicken Council – Tom Super stated this much in an interview held with the Houston Chronicle.
He further stated that the Chinese companies would have to ship the frozen chicken from the U.S then offload, transport it to the processing companies, unpack it, chop it off, process it, freeze it, repack it then transport it back to U.S. He wondered how a profit would be made in the process.
However, a similar process is already underway with U.S. seafood.
It is revealed by the “Seattle Times” that in order to save costs Pacific salmon and Dungeness crab caught in the U.S are being processed in China and then shipped back to the U.S.
According to Charles Bundrant the founder of Trident which ships approximately 30 million pounds of pacific salmon to China, he said that the fish has about 36 pin bones that can only be removed by hand and it would cost $1 per fish to remove the bones in the U.S whereas it would only cost 20 cents per fish in China.
Another data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the average American would work for $11 per hour in a chicken processing plant, but in China their workers will get paid about $1 to $2 per hour.
This rubbishes Tom Super’s idea that it would not be cost effective shipping the chicken to China for processing.
However, the food safety system in China is believed to be at least a decade behind the U.S is a cause for concern. As several food safety scandals have emerged from the country.
A case in point is the melamine-tainted milk powder which led to the ill health of more than 300,000 Chinese children with several dying.
Also in Chinese baby formula extremely high levels of mercury have been found. There are also cases of rat being sold to Chinese end users as lamb.
It is the goal of Food Safety News to create sufficient awareness on the USDA’s planned program so as to nip it in the bud and avoid Chinese-processed chicken from ever entering into the U.S market.