Chicken Nuggets: Made in China?

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The USDA is ending a ban on importing processed chicken from China. The products won't necessarily be labeled as coming from there.

It could soon be impossible to know whether processed chicken came from a Chinese plant.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is ending an import ban on processed chicken from China, NPR says. Because it’s processed, it won’t require a country-of-origin label.

At least initially, you can rest assured that the chicken itself was raised in Canada or the U.S., The New York Times says. And only four Chinese plants will be allowed to ship processed poultry here, which should make it easy for U.S. inspectors.

Except there won’t be any American inspectors. “Under the new rules, the Chinese facilities will verify that cooked products exported to the United States came from American or Canadian birds,” the Times says.

That wouldn’t be so worrisome if China had a better food safety record. “This year alone, thousands of dead pigs turned up in the waters of Shanghai, rat meat was passed off as mutton and — perhaps most disconcerting for U.S. consumers — there was an outbreak of the H7N9 bird flu virus among live fowl in fresh meat markets,” NPR says.

There may be cause for concern about the chicken here, too. The USDA is testing new inspection procedures that speed up processing lines and replace many inspectors with employees from the chicken companies, The Washington Post says. A Government Accountability Office report criticized the move, saying it was based partially on research that is 10 to 20 years old.

If the USDA relaxes the rules even further, it’s possible chicken could be just another American buy that’s made in China. What do you think of the changes? Would you knowingly buy chicken processed or raised in China? Let us know on Facebook.

Stacy Johnson

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