In an effort to bolster trade between the two super powers, the United States Department of Agriculture has agreed to allow four Chinese chicken processing plants to export their meat into our country.
According to the USDA’s website:
• The United States is not importing any raw chicken from China.
• FSIS has determined that China’s poultry processing inspection system is equivalent to that of the United States, and cooked chicken imported from China would be processed under equivalent conditions as in the United States.
• As always, FSIS is fully committed to protecting the nation’s food supply and if China begins exporting processed chicken products to the United States, all food safety steps will be taken as if the products were processed in the United States.
But as VegNews Daily writes:
“There will be no US officials present at the Chinese processing plants and consumers won’t know where their food comes from because processed meat does not require a point of origin label.”
Many of us are well aware of Chinese food safety issues from the past which include an outbreak of avian flu this year by the country’s poultry products, as well as the death of 500 U.S. canines in 2012 due to tainted dog chicken jerky, and the disturbing 6,000 dead pigs found this March floating down the Chinese Hunagpu River.
The biggest issues seem to be in two parts:
1. We as consumers have no idea what happens at the Chinese processing plant; we do not know where the chickens come from, what they’re fed, if they’re treated with antibiotics, or how they are actually processed. Not to say that many of us really know what happens at U.S. based chicken processing plants unless previously educated by PETA or any other of the many vegan-based organizations. And, if we have been exposed to the daily workings of these U.S. plants we know that these factories are often not as sanitary as they should be. So the USDA approving the facilities in China, thus allowing the importations to happen, leaves much to be concerned about via contamination, disease spreading etc.
2. If one wanted to continue to eat chicken but avoid the Chinese imported chicken that would be impossible since there is no requirement for the location of where the chicken comes from to be issued on the package.
The average American eats 60 pounds of chicken per year; in other words, we collectively eat eight billion chickens annually. Now, imagine the kind of problems that could potentially arise if one of these shipments of chicken is contaminated?
Perhaps this is as good of a time as any to switch over to that plant-based diet or at least work on requiring the USDA to have more stringent health policies and inspections.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise