We are not talking about War Su Gai here. The USDA has just certified that the Chinese poultry industry is now meeting USDA standards for processing poultry.
This is the official statement that was released today, August 30, 2013. You can get additional information at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/newsroom/resources.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today re-affirms the equivalence of the food safety inspection system for processed poultry in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which was originally established in 2006. This will enable the PRC to certify plants to export processed poultry product to the United States.
Certifying the Chinese operations could be a good thing in that the USDA is cutting the number of inspectors for all meat processing plants, and allowing US meat processors to “self-check” their own operations. The Chinese government reacts to major scandals in food safety by shooting the plant managers or owners.
The USDA takes a much kinder approach, which is why major outbreaks of salmonella and other tainted food products occur on a frequent basis. There are some really quirky requirements in this licensing.
- China cannot ship any raw chicken or raw chicken parts to the US.
- China can only ship processed chicken that is of US or Canadian origin.
- Processed chicken from China cannot be used in school lunch programs.
From the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that are available with this announcement,
Will chicken processed in China be included in school lunches?
No. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service ensures that products included in school lunch program are produced, raised, and processed only in the United States, its territories or possessions, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands.
You can see all of the questions and answers regarding this certification of Chinese processed poultry at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/newsroom/news-releases-statements-transcripts/news-release-archives-by-year/archive/2013/faq-china-08302013.
There must have been some interesting talks over dinner and drinks with the lobbyists calling on the USDA about this whole process. If the Chinese have had their slaughter and processing plants certified as being up to US standards, why do the chickens have to originate in the US or Canada?
The Chinese are taking a different tactic when it comes to getting access to the US pork market. Smithfield Foods has a pending deal from Shuanghui International, China's largest meat producer, for $7.1 billion dollars. Smithfield Foods’ CEO Larry Pope told the Senate Agriculture Committee that this deal would be a boost to the US pork producers, with increased market penetration in China, Japan and Korea.
The deal must receive antitrust clearance and be approved by the secretive U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment. This committee reviews such transactions for their impact on national security.
It is unclear as to who protects the Chinese consumers receiving US foodstuffs. The Chinese have shipped back at least one cargo ship suspected of containing GMO wheat using Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” seeds.
It is possible that having the Chinese own US food processing plants will actually improve US food safety. China, Russia, the European Union, Japan and Korea have all questioned genetically modified foods as being fit for human consumption. The lobbyists and senior food executives in the US food companies apparently do not have the influence in these countries that they have in the US.
The next time you buy a can of processed chicken, check the label to see if it was made in China. The author suggests buying certified unadulterated US chickens and cooking them.