“Cooked” Poultry from China
By Tony Corbo
On the afternoon of August 30 – the Friday before the Labor Day holiday weekend – USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) tried to make a quiet announcement that it was giving the green light to the People’s Republic of China to export processed poultry to the U.S. This report cleared the way for China to process, or cook raw poultry, that is sent to their processing facilities from “approved” sources such as the U.S., Canada, or Chile. FSIS auditors found that China had corrected deficiencies in previous audits but for some reason, FSIS did not post the audits of the four plants upon which it was basing its conclusions. Including individual plant audits as part of country audit reports is customary and Food & Water Watch sent a series of e-mails last week asking FSIS officials where the four plant audits for China were. On Friday September 6, FSIS posted those four plant audits, which can be viewed here.
These individual plant audits revealed some serious issues in three of the four plants:
- Qingdao Nine-Alliance Group, Shandong: “FSIS auditors observed several long electrical cords bundled with pieces of wire and repaired with electrical tape that rendered them difficult to clean. There was also one frayed electrical cord near exposed frozen RTE (ready-to-eat) products…An air-line water trap was not adequately closed and sealed causing its contents to spray in the surrounding area.”
- Zhueheng Waimao Co., Ltd/Shandong Delicate Food Co., Ltd, Zhueheng, Shandong: “FSIS auditors observed electrical cords bundled on top of several workstations’ lamps, one overhead electrical outlet with exposed wires and frayed conduit that had been rendered difficult to clean.”
- Weifang Legang Food Co.,Ltd, Shandong: “FSIS auditors identified structural deficiencies that included accumulation of residue on the outer surfaces of a tumbler in the raw product area and coils of electrical cords on workstation lamps in the cooked product area.”
Frayed electrical wires? Maybe that is how the Chinese plan to cook the chicken nuggets they plan to export back to the U.S.
While the Chinese food safety agency took action to correct the problems found, the issues identified by the FSIS auditors continue to raise serious questions about the food safety culture in China. China knows that its food safety practices are being closely scrutinized around the world in light the high-profile food safety scandals that have broken out in the country over recent years. Yet FSIS auditors still found serious issues in the plants that China itself selected for review.