Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
Washington, D.C—“After several weeks of requests from Food & Water Watch and the media, we finally know that the chicken in the first shipment of processed poultry products from the People’s Republic of China originated in Chile.
“To be eligible to ship to the United States, Chinese plants can only process raw poultry that comes from ‘approved’ sources, which are limited to countries such as the U.S., Canada and Chile. This means raw poultry needs to be shipped to China from those countries for cooking before it can be exported to the United States.
“The USDA’s 2016 audit checklist from the plant that slaughtered the chickens in Chile before they were shipped to China for processing reveals serious problems at this first stop in the product’s long journey. The USDA’s audit of the Agroindustrial el Paico S.A. facility in Chile noted non-compliances in Brazilian inspectors’ oversight of the plant’s sanitation procedures, final product defect processes and food safety plan. One note in the audit stated ‘Dry meat and fat fragments adhered to large areas of the walls in one production area that had been found acceptable by the establishment sanitation monitors.’
“It is disturbing to learn of these types of problems in the plant that slaughtered these chickens, before they were sent to be further processed in a plant in China, which has long struggled with food safety enforcement. U.S. consumers need to be concerned about chicken products processed in China for several reasons:
- There will be no USDA inspector stationed in Chinese poultry processing facilities to verify that the products are actually coming from ‘approved’ sources
- China’s food safety system is still riddled with serious deficiencies
- Because the poultry is processed, no Country of Origin label is required, leaving U.S. consumers in the dark about where their food comes from.
“This new information shows how much we give up in terms of oversight of the safety and sanitation in the plants where imports are produced. It is unacceptable to start importing processed chicken products from a country with serious food safety problems and a weak inspection system. We urge Secretary Perdue and USDA to withdraw the proposed rule to allow China to export its own poultry to the U.S.”
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, [email protected]
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