A Chinese company’s $7.1 billion buyout of Virginia pork giant Smithfield Foods cleared a federal hurdle and awaits expected shareholder approval later this month.
But an Asia economist says Shuanghui International isn’t in hog heaven yet.
“There still is a question if the Chinese know how to operate in the U.S. regulatory environment. It’s not that they want to screw it up, but do they know what they’re doing?” said Derek Scissors of the conservative Heritage Foundation.
China’s pork producers are notorious for cutting health-and-safety corners. Dead hogs have been seen floating down Chinese rivers and food poisonings are not uncommon.
So Scissors said U.S. regulators should keep a keen eye out for worker “bleedout” at Smithfield.
“I would watch employee turnover in the technical fields. New rules (imposed by Shuanghui) could push them out,” he told Watchdog.org Monday.
Scissors said he had no problem with the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment approving the buyout since USCFI is tightly tasked with assessing national-security concerns.
Critics of the deal say broader issues about food safety and security remain, however.
Virginia state Delegate Bob Marshall called USCFI’s approval “unbelievably shortsighted with respect to American citizens and workers.”