Chicken McNugget? Think Again, Chicken Processed in China Go On Sale in US

Excuse the clumsy attempt at word play, but there is definitely something foul with our fowls. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture lifted a ban on chicken imported from China. For the first time, chicken processed in China will go on sale in the United States without any labeling to indicate its source of origin. 

NEW YORK — On Sunday, Sept. 15, Senator Schumer held a press conference in front of the Associated Supermarket in Stuveysant Town. A small crowd of roughly twenty people, including eight reporters and cameramen, gathered to listen.  

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The USDA has approved four Chinese chicken processors to sell their chicken in the United States. Although the federal law allowed Chinese companies to export only cooked poultry products from chicken raised in the United States and Canada, without on-site U.S. inspectors, it would be hard to ensure compliance. Given China’s appalling record of food safety – arsenic in calamari, glass chips in pumpkin seeds, insecticide-tainted dumplings – Senator Schumer called the USDA’s decision to let Chinese chicken enter the United States without inspection a choice that “Makes no sense whatsoever.” He further claimed that if the agency could not afford enough inspectors to examine food products coming from China to the United States, then “don’t let the Chinese chicken in! Plain and simple!”

China has struggled to uphold its food safety standard domestically. The issue first attracted national media attention in 2008, when milk tainted with melamine, an industrial chemical commonly used in plastics, adhesives, and whiteboards, killed six children and sickened thousands of others. In February 2011, contaminated milk – with leather-hydrolyzed protein, resurfaced. Dubbed “leather milk,” the toxic milk used chemical scraps left over from the leather softening process to boost its protein content.

Senator Schumer advocated for the USDA to increase the number of on-the-ground inspectors to evaluate both the facilities and Chinese system for inspection as well as increase the frequency of random inspection of chicken meat shipped to the United States. ”

Eric Weltman, guest speaker from Food & Water Watch, a non-profit consumer organization, called this an example of trade over consumer safety. “China has stopped importing beef from the United States,” explained Weltman, “And it has made it very clear that in order for export to resume, the United States must import Chinese poultry products.”

Although Weltman insisted that, “We don’t want to scare people away from chicken, that’s not the point,” concerned consumer Bob Amamd, a senior citizen who has joined the crowd in front of the supermarket to listen, expressed incredulity. He doubted the USDA would have adequate resource, both money and number of inspectors, to execute the check. “How can you ensure that the chicken is safe,” asked Amamd, “the PRC won’t cooperate with us on foreign policy, what makes you think they will listen to us about chicken.”

“Will you eat chicken again after this?”

He paused, then without hesitation he replied, “No, I will eat fish.”

For further reading (and video): A Day at the Farmers Market

5 thoughts on “Chicken McNugget? Think Again, Chicken Processed in China Go On Sale in US

  1. Galvachon

    There will be long term health consequences if issues like this are not addressed and resolved properly. Obama medicare? No, medicare begins with your health. Americans need to focus on their long-term health care by eating fresh, local, and reliable produce instead of stuffing their faces away with fatty fast-foods, 2 minute microwave pizzas, and consuming produce from health hazardous wastelands like China!


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