Target: United States Department of Agriculture
Goal: Protest legalizing wasteful and unregulated processing of American-grown poultry in China
A new USDA rule will soon allow four plants in China to process poultry raised in America, only to be shipped back to the U.S. for consumption. No USDA inspectors will be stationed at the Chinese plants to oversee health and safety standards are maintained, nor will American consumers be able to tell if their chicken was processed domestically or in China. As the chicken is technically a “Product of U.S.,” no country-of-origin labeling would be required. Protest the USDA’s new rule that would allow American chickens be sent to China for processing.
China has a notoriously poor track record of food health and safety. A poultry plant explosion in June of this year killed 119 people in northeastern China. The incident came just months after over 20,000 chickens were culled following six human deaths from avian influenza. Without USDA oversight and inspection at the Chinese factories, there’s no guarantee that similar problems have been solved or won’t recur.
As the movement to eat more local meats and produce grows in America, yet another question remains: how many consumers really want their chicken sent halfway across the world and back? On top of improper treatment of poultry at Chinese plants, there’s also the risk of the meat spoiling during transport. Then, of course, stress added on the animals during the initial shipment to China. Worst for some, American consumers wary of buying food imported from China will be completely in the dark about where their chicken was processed.
Besides the irrational nature of the process– shipping the poultry to China simply to be shipped back again – the greatest concern here is that proper health and safety standards are met. If the USDA cannot promise this, the new rule should be reversed. Protest the shipment of American raised chickens for processing in China.
Dear U.S. Department of Agriculture,
I am upset over the recent decision by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to allow American raised chickens to be shipped to China for processing. U.S.’ consumers put their trust in the USDA for the maintenance of proper food safety regulations. Shipping poultry overseas to a country with a history of numerous safety problems, far away from USDA inspectors and oversight, is unacceptable. At the very least, the USDA would need to guarantee regular audits of Chinese factories, while the FSIS would need to stay true to its commitment of stringent inspections.
Keep American chickens home. Not only am I concerned for health and safety, I would also be happier knowing that chickens raised for meat were not subjected to any additional and unnecessary stress. I am also worried that the USDA would not give consumers enough information for them to make an educated choice. While the birds may have been raised in the U.S., shipping them abroad for processing alters the product considerably. The USDA should require a tag separate from the country of origin label to signify where the meat was processed.
I am deeply concerned with the new rule that allows chickens to be sent for processing in China and hope you will reconsider your decision. To ensure American safety, please keep all meat processing of domestic livestock within the country.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: ITamar K. via Wikimedia Commons