Processing Chicken in China

In spite of the “Bird Flu” concerns in China, the USDA quietly lifts the ban on chicken imports from China

On August 29, 2013, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) lifted the ban on chicken imports from China. Although the “Made in China” label may now be appropriate for fast food chicken sandwiches, chicken in your favorite can of soup or chicken nuggets, the label will not be required. Chile, Canada and the United States are the only countries that are allowed to raise chickens by the USDA. The chickens will be raised and slaughtered in one of these three countries, then shipped to China to be cooked and processed. They will then be shipped back to the United States for sale and consumption — no label is required under this type of procedure.

According to Politico, only four Chinese processing plants in Beijing will be able to process and export chicken. On March 4, 2013, two officers from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) went to Beijing to inspect the plants and 16 days later gave them a clean bill of health. The inspectors tested plant workers on how to deal with a variety of situations such as how to test for and what to do in cases of Listeria and Salmonella. However, no USDA inspectors will remain onsite at the plants.

Under the Food Safety Modernization Act, which President Obama signed into law in January, the focus of food safety will shift to prevention from reacting to contamination. The law gives the FDA oversight for science-based preventative controls across the food supply, including imported foods. It directs the FDA to inspect more than “600 foreign facilities and double those inspections every year for the next five years,” the FDA reports. “For the first time importers will be required to have a program to verify that the products that they are bringing into this country are safe.”

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