Where did that chicken on your plate come from? If you are blessed to raise your own chickens or have connections to obtain locally raised poultry, count your blessings and breathe a deep sigh of relief. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans are purchasing chicken from the grocery store, and now with rumors about the “China chicken export”, we are all beginning to wonder…is my chicken from China?.
There have been some ruffled feathers as information is being uncovered, but before you vow to boycott any and all chicken from your diet, be sure to get the facts…. and that’s exactly what I’ve put together for you in this post.
The chicken “coup”
According to this Newsweek article, In 2006, the USDA submitted a list of regulations to the White House that were aimed to help China become certified to process chicken and export it to the US. With numerous food safety issues in the past, people did not expect approval quickly, but it was approved by the White House the very next day.
Thanks to the efforts of our government, according to this constituent update from the USDA last November, chicken raised in either the United States or other approved countries can be shipped to China to be butchered, processed, and packaged at these four certified factories that meet United States requirements and safety standards. The packaged chicken will then be shipped back to the United States to be sold. The scariest part of this whole situation is that there is no labeling that will inform the consumer that the chicken was processed in China.
This is an odd arrangement to say the least. According to information in this Newsweek Article , due to the rising cost in chicken, transportation costs, and an unfavorable exchange rate, re-exporting chicken is “uncompetitive” for China. Experts in the food industry have stated that this is a “head scratcher” situation.
What kind of chicken are we talking about here?
According to this USDA Food and Safety Inspection Services (FSIS) report from July 2015, China is “eligible to export heat processed (heat treated/cooked) poultry, provided that the raw poultry is sourced from countries that have an equivalent poultry slaughter inspection system.”
So what is this referring to? It is heat treated and cooked processed chicken being exported back to the United States, not raw uncooked chicken. I would imagine this is anything in the “Chicken Nugget” family. This is just another reason to avoid processed chicken from the frozen section of the grocery store AND from fast-food restaurants!
Do you really even know what’s in a “chicken nugget”? According to this healthline article, researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center discovered that fat, nerve, bone, connective tissue, and epithelium were present in equal or greater quantities than chicken meat. Ewww!
This strange export arrangement isn’t really even about chicken…
The United States is motivated not by chicken, but by beef. By allowing China entry into the US chicken market, the US hopes that China will remove its ban on all US Beef (imposed in 2003 after “Mad Cow”incidents) and allow the US to export beef to China once again. Allowing China to enter the chicken market is no major loss to the US, but with US Beef a $44 billion industry and beef consumption on the rise in China, greed and politics are coming into play and the US wants to play nice to get what they want. It is purely speculation to guess what China stands to gain in this situation. I just know that I don’t want chicken from China, do you?
Why to avoid chicken from China:
China is notorious for having a weak food safety system and multiple incidents have occurred with sickness and even death of both people and animals. Their “food offenses” include various disgusting meat scandals, counterfeit and contaminated baby formula, soy sauce made from human hair, and even meat that glowed in the dark… see a complete list of the Food Safety Incidents in China here.
How do I avoid chicken from China?
- buy local– it’s fresh, you know where it is coming from, you can find out what is was fed, plus, you are supporting local farmers!
- buy organic– even if this China chicken doesn’t get into organic products, there are many other good reasons to purchase organic meats!
- buy unprocessed! buy whole and unprocessed meats so that you have a better idea of what you are getting (hopefully not 50% or more of your “meat” consisting of fat, nerve, bone, connective tissue, and epithelium like in nuggets- yuck!).
What about school lunches?
The Safe Chicken and Meat for Children Act of 2015 is a bill introduced in Congress this May by Representative Rosa DeLauro. It would ban chicken and meat produced or processed in China from federal nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program. You can send an email to your representative to support this bill here.
What do you think? Did any of this surprise you?
I’d love to hear from you, so please be sure to comment below!