In the not so distant future, according to Bloomberg.com, the chicken nuggets, fast-food chicken sandwich or even the chicken noodle soup bits you are eating could very well have been processed in China. Yes, that's right. We are going to start sending our chickens to China for processing.
While everyone from the First Lady to many health experts are touting the benefits of eating locally grown and processed food because of its freshness and availability, it defies comprehension to figure out why anyone would want to eat something that has traveled to China, been processed, and then shipped back to the U.S. for our consumption.
Food-Safety experts are up in arms over the Obama Administration's decision to permit chicken processed in China to be sold in the U.S. This comes after several high-profile incidents of food contamination in China. As an added insult to our mentality, the Department of Agriculture choose to make the announcement of their decision on the Friday before Labor Day.
After a decades-long dispute over farm imports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has said it would allow poultry slaughtered in this country and Canada to be sent to China for processing and then returned to the U.S. for consumption. Critics of the move are vowing to fight the decision, citing China's lax factory oversight.
Senator Charles Schumer wrote in a Sept. 16 letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that, “The Chinese food-safety system has had significant failures in the enforcement of its food-safety laws and regulations.”
The safety of goods we import from China has made headlines here since 2007. Issues have included tainted baby food, the chemical melamine being found in pet food and eggs, and recently, the avian flu outbreak. In March of this year, we were stunned with the stories and grotesque pictures of over 11,000 dead pigs floating in a river while authorities in Shanghai went about retrieving them.
What does the USDA have to say in response? “Consumers should know that any processed poultry from China will be produced under equivalent food safety standards and conditions as U.S. poultry.”
Tom Super, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council, a Washington-based industry group, said in an e-mail that 99 percent of the chicken consumed in the U.S is hatched, raised and processed in the U.S. Super also says “We don’t expect that to change any time soon.”