Food safety advocates have launched a Change.org petition aimed at getting Congress to keep chicken from China off U.S. plates.
The petition asks Congress and the Obama administration to ensure that Chinese-processed chicken is not included in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program. It also seeks to prevent federal funds from being used to implement any rule that would allow poultry raised or slaughtered in China to be exported to the U.S.
These two goals are also supported by 14 members of Congress who wrote an open letter to the Agricultural Appropriations Committee in December.
In August, USDA reaffirmed that China’s processing system is equivalent to ours, but China has yet to certify plants to process chicken for export and give a list of them to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The country hasn’t signified that they intend to do this, and U.S. companies have not expressed the desire to have China process their poultry.
Food that comes to schools through USDA for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program 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 U.S. chicken, there would be the possibility that private vendors could sell it to schools.
In November, FSIS announced that an audit of China’s poultry slaughtering system found that it’s not equivalent to America’s, meaning that poultry slaughtered in China is not allowed to be imported to the U.S.
USDA is legally required to review and audit any request for equivalency. And there is the possibility that preventing funds from being used to implement rules allowing poultry raised or slaughtered in China to be exported to the U.S. could go against a WTO ruling about trade disputes.
This article includes updated information about the source of food in school lunch and breakfast programs.© Food Safety News