China will export processed chicken and other poultry products to the U.S. as part of a recent trade deal, but some are concerned about the safety of Chinese processing operations.
Under the trade agreement that opened Chinese markets to American beef, the U.S. promised to allow China to export butchered poultry products, mainly chickens and ducks, to America.
“Taking that processed chicken was a quid pro quo to get China to accept U.S. beef,” Democratic Connecticut Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro told the Washington Post Friday. “Trade always trumps public health in the U.S. … It’s outrageous. It says we don’t care about the health and safety of consumers.”
The U.S. currently prohibits poultry products that have been processed in China, but a proposed rule would allow certified vendors to process meat for American consumers. The products would not be labeled, but would undergo rigorous safety inspections, Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told CNBC in June.
The new rule allowing China to export poultry products to the U.S. wouldn’t go into effect until after the Department of Agriculture’s comment period ends in August.
Perdue visited China last week to celebrate the first shipments of American beef to the country, promising that once “the Chinese people get a taste of U.S. beef, they’re going to want more of it.”
Department of Agriculture food safety inspectors granted approval to four Chinese meat processing facilities in April, allowing them to process poultry products for American markets.
China’s food safety standards are simply not as rigorous as U.S. rules. China is still not allowed to sell raw poultry products to most other countries because of the risk of avian flu, but fully cooking poultry products kills any avian flu bacteria.
“Food safety is highly dependent on a culture of food safety, which China doesn’t have,” Thomas Gremillion, director of food policy at the Consumer Federation of America, told WaPo. “I don’t see the little bit they’ve done as revolutionizing this permissiveness toward food adulteration.”
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