USDA Says Okay To Ship U.S. Chicken to China for Cheap Processing (Then Re-Entry To States For Human Consumption)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture just gave the okay sign to export chicken raised and slaughtered in the U.S to China so the Chinese manufacturers can process them cheaper and then ship the chickens back to the U.S. to be sold on grocery shelves here!

The problem is that the chickens processed in China will not require a country-of-origin label and will not have U.S. inspectors on site during processing. Therefore, U.S. inspectors will not check the poultry before it is shipped back to the United States for consumption.

Many food safety experts are concerned about the quality of the poultry processed in China because of the problems with avian influenza and food-borne illnesses. Also, people worry that China will eventually increase the export rules to allow chickens born and raised in China to be sold in the U.S.

“Economically, it doesn’t make much sense,” explained a spokesman for the National Chicken Council, Tom Super, in a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle.:

“Think about it. A Chinese company would have to purchase frozen chicken in the U.S., pay to ship it 7,000 miles, unload it, transport it to a processing plant, unpack it, cut it up, process/cook it, freeze it, repack it, transport it back to a port, then ship it another 7,000 miles. I don’t know how anyone could make a profit doing that.”

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that American poultry workers receive around $11 per hour on average. In China, records have circulated that the workers can earn way less than in the U.S. – around $1 to 2 per hour, which casts doubt on Super’s economic feasibility assessment.

This method is at the moment being used for U.S. seafood. Based on the Seattle Times, domestically caught Pacific salmon and Dungeness crab are being processed in China and shipped back to the U.S., due to the significant cost savings. Fish manufacturers in the Northwest, including Seattle-based Trident Seafoods, send part of their Alaskan salmon or Dungeness crab to China to be filleted or de-shelled before returning to U.S. consumers.

Trident’s founder, Charles Bundrant, says the best way to remove the 36 pin bones in a salmon is by hand. And since trident ships around 30 million pounds of its 1.2 billion-pound annual harvest to China for processing, they save a lot on wage costs, because in the U.S. it costs around $1 per pound labor, whereas in China they get it done for 20 cents.

Unfortunately, China has developed somewhat of a bad reputation as one of the world’s worst food safety offenders. At the beginning of this year, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) published a report on a Chinese chicken manufacturer that produced dog treats tied to more than 500 dogs’ deaths.

It seems as though more regulations should be put in place by the government to seek the highest standard of health and safety for its citizens, and not concerns themselves with the extreme profits of large corporations, which appears to be the case at the moment.


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