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FAQ: What’s Going on with Chinese Chicken Processing?

Many people have had something to say about chicken and other poultry destined for U.S. tables potentially coming from or through China.

The latest concerns come from 14 members of the House of Representatives who wrote to the chairmen and senior Democrats of subcommittees responsible for funding the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Since the issue is a complicated one, Food Safety News wanted to offer a primer on poultry slaughtered and processed in China.

Was my chicken slaughtered in China?

No. In November, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that its audit of China’s poultry slaughter system found that it’s not equivalent to America’s. This means that poultry slaughtered in China is not allowed to be imported to the U.S.

Is China allowed to process U.S. chicken?

Yes. In August, USDA reaffirmed that China’s processing system in equivalent to ours. This wasn’t exactly news since China’s processing had been established as equivalent back in 2006. But, regardless of the timing, it means that poultry raised and slaughtered in the U.S. or another approved source (Canada or Chile) could be shipped to China where it’s processed and then shipped back to the U.S.

Then was my chicken processed in China?

No. China has to certify plants to process chicken for export and give a list of them to FSIS. The country hasn’t done this or signified that they intend to. In addition, U.S. companies have not expressed the desire to have China process their poultry.

If, in the future, our chicken is processed in China, will we be able to tell?

USDA says the products would have a label reading “Product of China,” but there are a number of loopholes to existing labeling rules that could leave consumers in the dark on this one.

If our chicken is ever processed in China, will it be in school lunches?

Maybe, but not through USDA. Food that comes to schools through the agency for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is required to be 100-percent domestically grown and produced. But schools don’t get all their food from USDA, and, if China ever did start processing our chicken, there would be the possibility that private vendors could sell it to schools.

© Food Safety News
  • Marge Mullen

    Glad I stopped eating meat!!

    • Joe Blow

      How does that even relate to this topic? Did you read the article or just the headline?

    • flame

      I agree with Marge having been a lifelong vegetarian and often vegan. So no worries for me personally; even thought I have concerns for relatives/loved ones who do eat chicken. Hopefully during this ‘reprieve’ consumers will learn to make their own chicken nuggets, chop fresh chicken breast for their soups/stews/potpies etc. Or better yet forget ever purchasing processed chicken of any kind especially for their young children/grandchildren/greatgrands and other young minor relatives. I say ‘reprieve’ because I know this country will sell it’s consumers ‘out’ no matter how unsafe, dangerous the product is. This country allows it’s consumers to eat, drink, ingest and use stuff other countries have banned for their consumers.

      • Swiggy

        Uh… you may want to consider growing your own veggies, then. Recall the E-Coli spinach China sent over a few years back. Add into that the GMO foods grown domestically (including the hormones on livestock and genetically altered seeds)

        The only way to confirm that your food is pure is to grow your own. To avoid the GMO seeds, there are several companies around the country that offer heritage seeds. These are seeds that have not had the Genetic modifications.

        Now, if you use any dairy products, you may have to move to the country and raise a few cows to take care of that particular. I know, why buy the cow when milk is so cheap… but it’s not really cheap if it can make you sick.

  • Oginikwe

    Glad we raise our own chickens.

  • Lulu

    If this is what we are feeding humans, what are they putting in pet food?

  • RightAngle

    I’m 66 yo and my travels has taken me to all over the Orient. As for what Americans are accustomed to we have enough problems in our own country despite the USDA. The foriegn interpretation of food and processed food is wholly different and inferior. Adding foriegn food to Americans diet will become a roullette wheel as for added health issues. It’s not just meat folks. It behooves you to grow your own or insist on organic. Our problem here is “processed” foods in white sugar, white rice, white flour, white salt, white breads, fast foods, corn meal in our beef etc, starches, empty calories, carbonated flavored drinks, etc. You vegans are not escaping this slow death.

  • Lisa Smith-Elyea

    Would someone please tell me exactly what “processed” in China means? Not being a meat-eater I’m not familiar with the “processing” part. Thanks.

  • Dan Archer Lewis

    You people have to ruin everything don’t you!

  • Letitia Butler

    Well remember 600 american dogs died eating chinese dog treats and countless others got sick my two dogs were lucky i bought the turkey treats instead of the chicken wagon train. Now we’re going to give them a chance to feed us? What kind of people are running things over here retards?

  • Ronnie Moore

    Since the government is going to do this and allow the compaines not have to tell us , then I am going to stop eatting chicken. I hate all chicken companies are going to suffer the lost of sales but I refuse to be force to eat anything from a foregn country. I stopped buying fish from Kroger because of this. The government f—- up everything they touch because of greed and corruption. Lobbing should be ellegle something Obama said he was going to fix , another lie.

  • Chester Marx

    Wrong on so many levels, freeze the chicken, ship it overseas, defrost the chicken, cut up the chicken, and refreeze the chicken, and then ship it back to the country of origin. Chicken processors aren’t too worried about our food safety, and apparently the USDA isn’t too concerned either.

  • ramonalisa373

    China kills their own children and we’re supposed to trust them with our food ex. chicken??