Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who chairs the Congressional Food Safety Caucus, has expressed her opposition to any agreement to allow imports of Chinese-raised poultry into the United States.

The Connecticut Democrat, who is also a senior member of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, put her concerns in writing with a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

“I write to express my concern regarding alarming reports that suggest the Administration is moving forward with its plan to allow the People’s Republic of China (China) to export its own poultry products to the United States,” wrote DeLauro.

“The Chinese food system has been plagued by series of scandals for decades. A recent report by China’s Food and Drug Administration revealed that the agency found more than 500,000 occurrences of illegal behavior and food safety violations in the first three quarters of 2016. Furthermore, Bi Jingquan, the agency’s former top official, described the Chinese food systems as having ‘deep-seated’ problems.”

“The safety of our nation’s food supply should not be compromised by politicized, quid-pro-quo trade negotiations,” continued DeLauro. “Allowing China to export Chinese-raised poultry poses serious risks to public health and consumer safety. These current discussions, with respect to poultry products, should cease until a more transparent process can take its place moving forward. That process should include all relevant stakeholders, including food safety experts and consumer advocates.”

A copy of the full letter to Secretary Perdue can be found here.

No chickens raised or slaughtered in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) can currently be shipped to the United States.  Only if China had a qualified outside source of raw poultry for its processing plants could it proceed with exports to the U.S. under current policy.

Since 2006, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has found China’s food safety inspection system for processed poultry equivalent to the U.S.  This means that the PRC could, in theory, certify plants to export processed poultry products to the U.S.

Although China is eligible to export processed, cooked chicken to the United States, the U.S. is not importing raw chicken from the Asian nation.  If China where to export processed chicken products to the U.S., FSIS says all food safety steps will be taken, the same as if the products were processed in this country.

Earlier this week, DeLauro wrote FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, demanding answers to her questions about the multistate Salmonella Braenderup outbreak involving Rose Acre Farms, the nation’s second-largest egg producer.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click )