USDA Says Okay to Ship U.S. Chickens to China for Cheap Processing, Then Back Home for You to Eat

Before we start, let me ask you a question – have you ever heard of the term – Chinese chicken. Well, this term will soon have a whole new meaning, because the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently gave the green-light to four chicken processing plants in China, allowing chicken raised and slaughtered in the U.S. to be exported to China for processing, and then shipped back to the U.S. and sold on grocery shelves here.

Well, the bad thing is that the imported processed chicken will not require a country-of-origin label nor will U.S. inspectors be on site at processing plants in China before it is shipped to the United States for human consumption. Many people, especially the food safety experts, are worried about the quality of chicken processed in a country notorious for avian influenza and food-borne illnesses. The food safety experts also predict that China will eventually seek to broaden the export rules to allow chickens born and raised in China.

Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, said that this doesn’t make any sense – economically speaking. He said that in a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle.

He also said:

“Think about it: A Chinese company would have to purchase frozen chicken in the U.S., pay to ship it 7,000 miles, unload it, transport it to a processing plant, unpack it, cut it up, process/cook it, freeze it, repack it, transport it back to a port, then ship it another 7,000 miles. I don’t know how anyone could make a profit doing that.”

According to the latest statistics, brought by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the American poultry processors are paid roughly $11 per hour on average. In China, reports have circulated that the country’s chicken workers can earn significantly less—$1 to 2 per hour—which casts doubt on Super’s economic feasibility assessment. They also say that this process is already being used for U.S. seafood. The Seattle Times reports that the domestically caught Pacific salmon and Dungeness crab are currently being processed in China and shipped back to the U.S., all because of significant cost savings. They also say that fish processors in the Northwest, including Seattle-based Trident Seafoods, are sending part of their catch of Alaskan salmon or Dungeness crab to China to be filleted or de-shelled before returning to U.S. tables.

Charles Bundrant, the founder of Trident, says that there are 36 pin bones in a salmon and the best way to remove them is by hand. This is why they ship about 30 million pounds of its 1.2 billion-pound annual harvest to China for processing. Charles also says that something that would cost us $1 per pound labor here, they get it done for 20 cents in China. We all know that China has an infamous reputation as one of the world’s worst food safety offenders. Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report on a Chinese chicken jerky manufacturer that created dog treats tied to more than 500 dogs’ deaths. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to share this article with your friends and family.