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Beware of Chicken From China!

Updated on January 4, 2014

Did you know that the chicken we consume is processed in China? It's a disturbing fact that most people are unaware of. Less than 2% of food imported from China is inspected by the USDA. Most chickens that are served in restaurants and sold as chicken nuggets in groceries are not even labeled as processed in China. This is how the chickens are being transported from one country to another. The USDA has granted China to take the chickens and put them in crates. They process them in China and after processing, it will be shipped back to the US and distribute them in stores and groceries. You wouldn't be able to tell the difference since the chickens are not labeled. The question is, why would we raise chickens here in the US only to be shipped to China for processing? According to Marion Nestle Phd, it's all about money and politics. It's cheaper to process meat in China than here in the US. It's cheaper to send the chickens to China and send it back in the US. It also has something to do with international trade. China has not allowed the import of American raised beef since 2003. The Chinese are worried about the mad cow disease.

The Director for the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention Barbara Kowalcyk Phd mentioned that processing the meat means cooking the product and chopping it into nuggets or placing it in canned soup. Doctor Oz said that 84% of Americans consume one or more meals containing chicken in a week. Kowalcyk stressed that the USDA assured the public that China's food guidelines are equivalent to that of the US. But it doesn't mean the USDA inspectors would go to these establishments to inspect the food. It all boils down to trusting China that they uphold those same standards that we have here. Kowalcyk mentioned that raw poultry is not allowed to be sold in the US because of the avian influenza. Melomene is found in most baby formulas and some chickens have chemical contamination. Since 2007, we have been importing pet jerky treats that contain chicken products. About 600 cats and dogs have died after eating jerky treats.

China's food safety standards are decades behind the US's standards. The chickens are not labeled processed in China. You only have to label the origin of the food. They say on the label where the chicken is produced not necessarily where the chicken is processed. In China, the way their food safety system is set-up is that the oversight is delegated to provinces. They have found inconsistent standards after the USDA has done their audits in these provinces. The Chinese will be doing their own inspection and will go there once a year to review their systems and will be given advance notice that they are coming.

Kowalcyk raised concerns on how we consume these chickens. They will be fed to children and will create a huge impact on their health. There are food borne illnesses that affect 48 million Americans every year.

The USDA has released a statement regarding this matter. "The USDA food and inspection service has determined that China's poultry processing inspection system is equivalent to that of the US and if China begins exporting processed chicken products to the US, all food safety steps will be taken as if the products were processed in the US."

Dr. Oz clarified with Kowalcyk if cooking solves the problem. She said that cooking doesn't clean the product. If we want to eliminate salmonella from the chicken, we have to cook it at the proper temperature. Cooking will not deal with antibiotic residues and chicken contamination.

Michael Hansen, a scientist from The Consumer Reports tells us how to keep our chickens safe.

1. Chicken should be the last thing that we should buy because we have to do "drip control". Some packaged chickens drip and that can spread the bacteria.

2. When you buy the chicken, be sure to put it in a plastic bag and tie it up. Dr. Oz showed the audience how to bag the chicken. Bag them as if you are putting a bag on your produce. Put the plastic bag over your hand and insert the product. Do this process if the chicken is dripping.

3. When you get home, don't wash the chicken before cooking. Washing can spread the bacteria around.

4. After cooking the chicken, don't put it back on the container where it came from. Place it on a new and clean container.

This is an alarming story regarding how chickens are processed. Who would've thought that our chickens are processed all the way in China? The USDA inspectors have to be vigilant in inspecting the chickens so as not to compromise food safety. We cannot afford to have our children eat our chickens if they are contaminated. Food safety should be the utmost priority.

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