Quality Progress - October 2013 - (Page 14)
Decision to allow some Chinese-processed poultry into U.S. raises concerns
consumer safety advocates think u.s. regulators might be setting the table for future
contamination outbreaks following a recent
ease in restrictions covering some chinese
Last month, the u.s. department of agriculture (usda) began allowing four processing plants in china to ship a limited amount of
poultry to the united states. the birds would
be raised and slaughtered in the united
states, canada or chile (the only countries
approved by the usda), but processed in china and sold back into the american market.
some think this development will eventually expand the rules—as soon as a year
from now—so chickens and turkeys actually
bred in china could end up in u.s. grocery
cases and restaurants.
“this is the first step toward allowing
china to export its own domestic chickens
to the u.s.” said tony corbo, the senior lobbyist for food and Water Watch, an advocacy group that promotes food safety.
the chinese facilities will verify that
cooked products exported to the united
states came from american birds, so no
usda inspector will be present in the plants.
Because the poultry will only be processed
there, it will not require a “Made in china”
label. that means u.s. consumers eating
frozen chicken nuggets from a grocery store
or a chicken sandwich from a fast-food restaurant will not know whether the chicken
came from a chinese processing plant.
Because of china’s recent history with
food safety lapses, nervousness about this
regulatory move is not surprising. the country has had frequent outbreaks of the deadly
avian influenza. recently, the u.s. food
and drug administration tied the deaths of
more than 500 dogs and a handful of cats to
chicken jerky treats that came from china.
the food was eventually recalled, but not
14 QP • www.qualityprogress.com
before it sickened another 2,500 animals.
“Previous usda poultry inspections
revealed conditions in china that could put
american consumers at risk,” rep. rosa deLauro (d-conn.), one of the most vocal critics
of allowing chinese chicken in the united
states, said in a statement. “even if a one-off
visit shows an improved environment, there
will be no u.s. inspector continually present
when chicken is being processed for export
to the u.s. i continue to remain deeply concerned that trade interests will trump public
health at the end of this process.”
usda officials defended the approvals,
saying the chinese processors provided
sufficient evidence and met the proper
al almanza, administrator of the usda’s
food safety and inspection service (fsis),
said the four processing plants were audited
and cleared by inspectors earlier this year to
process u.s.-origin chicken and sell it back
into the american market.
during the March audit, the fsis sought
to determine whether the chinese government provides sufficient, consistent over-
sight at poultry plants. the fsis also created
mock situations to test the plant personnel
and quizzed supervisors to see whether they
were now properly trained on the reformed
hazard analysis and critical control points
(HaccP), how to test for salmonella and listeria, and what to do in the case of contamination. By the end of the inspection, china
was given the green light to certify the four
poultry plants that will export processed
poultry to the united states.
“if we were to determine that their
system is equivalent [to u.s. plants], why
wouldn’t it be?” almanza said. “it’s the same
[set of standards] we use for any other country. We’re not treating china any differently
in determining equivalency for exporting to
the united states.”
Processed poultry is currently imported to
the united states from five other countries:
canada, chile, france, israel and Mexico.
almanza acknowledged more must be
done before the usda approves china for
exporting its own chicken. “there are some
issues that still need to be addressed” to establish equivalency between poultry plants
in the united states and china, he said.
an fsis spokeswoman said imported raw
poultry is audited through a different audit
team, and is not related to the auditing of
Elliot, Danielle, “Officials Say ‘Okay’ to Processed Chicken
From China,” CBS News, Sept. 6, 2013, www.cbsnews.
Parti, Tarini, and Bill Tomson, “Chinese-raised Chicken Could
Be on U.S. Tables Soon,” Politico, Sept. 9, 2013, www.
Strom, Stephanie, “Chinese Chicken Processors Are Cleared
to Ship to U.S.,” New York Times, Aug. 30, 2013, www.
Tomson, Bill, and Tarini Parti, “USDA Trip Moves U.S. Closer to
Accepting Chinese Chicken,” Politico, Aug. 15, 2013, www.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - October 2013
Mr. Pareto Head
For the Greater Good
Get There Faster
Quality in the First Person
Back to Basics
Quality Progress - October 2013