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