Hold the phone. Stop the presses. Whatever you do, make sure you put down that piece of chicken. The chicken you were eating and thought it came from a farm in U.S. straight to your table, maybe only half of the truth. It may have taken a little detour.
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. Furthermore, the imported processed poultry 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.
Food safety experts worry about the quality of chicken processed in a country notorious for avian influenza and food-borne illnesses. And they predict that China will eventually seek to broaden the export rules to allow chickens born and raised in China.
What’s the reason for this shipping back and forth? It’s like most things: M-O-N-E-Y.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics data estimates that 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.
This process is already being used for U.S. seafood. According to the Seattle Times,…