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Chinese Chicken

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I know my trust in the quality of the chicken I eat (not that I eat very much) is really reinforced by the United States now accepting Chinese imports of cooked chicken products that come from chickens grown in “approved nations.” If there’s one thing, we can count on, it’s the safety and sanitation of imported Chinese goods.

China has been the given green light to start shipping chicken to America.

On Wednesday, the Agriculture Department told stakeholders it had certified four poultry processing plants in the Shandong province of China to export fully cooked, frozen and refrigerated chicken to the United States.

Though raw chicken must still come from countries approved by the USDA’s Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) — the U.S., Canada and Chile — consumer rights activists are calling the certifications for cooked chicken from China dangerous.

“China’s food safety system is a wreck,” D.C.-based Food & Water Watch said in a statement Thursday. The group has been fighting the USDA on the issue since November 2005.

“There have been scores of food safety scandals in China and the most recent ones have involved expired poultry products sold to U.S. fast food restaurants based in China,” the statement said. “Now, we have FSIS moving forward to implement this ill-conceived decision, and it has not even audited the Chinese food safety system in over 20 months.”

Taking raw American or Canadian chickens, sending them to China for processing, and then returning them to the United States also says a lot about the absurdity of the global food system.

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