On August 31, as most Americans were enjoying the Labor Day weekend and perhaps grilling hamburgers and chicken, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) quietly lifted its restriction on processed poultry (such as chicken and turkey) from Communist China being imported into the United States. 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.
The USDA’s announcement came in the form of an official letter (accompanied by an FSIS report) to Li Chunfeng, the deputy director general of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). “As all outstanding issues have been resolved, the PRC may proceed with certifying a list of poultry processing establishment as meeting the FSIS requirements,” the letter said. The letter further stated:
These certified establishments may then begin exporting processed (heat-treated/cooked) poultry products to the United States under the conditions established in FSIS’ April 2006 final rule; i.e. only processed poultry product from poultry slaughtered under FSIS inspection in the United States or in a country eligible to export slaughtered poultry to the United States. [Emphasis added.]
For now, only chickens or turkeys that are raised and slaughtered in either the United States, Canada, or other countries that are currently allowed to export poultry to the United States may now be sent to China in order to be cooked or processed into food products that will then be shipped back to the United States to be sold and consumed. Because the poultry is originally coming from the United States or other countries approved by the USDA, inspectors from the USDA will not be required on site in China when it is being processed, according to the New York Times, which further stated:
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