WASHINGTON, DC - In case you were looking for another reason to try a vegetarian diet, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will likely allow the exportation of U.S. grown chickens to China for processing and packaging.
China's limited food regulations have tarnished the nation's reputation in terms of food safety. While seafood sold throughout the world is commonly prepared in Chinese butcheries, many Americans are alarmed that the USDA would oversee the outsourcing of even more raw foodstuffs.
While American butchers and processors earn around $11 an hour for their work, their Chinese counterparts earn $2 at best. Beyond the apparent human rights implications, Americans should also question the final product.
Unless the USDA reverses their decision, the poultry that ordinary Americans will soon consume will have made a round trip of over 14,000 miles. All the while, it will be exposed to undocumented risks and unknown contaminants.
Health and capitalism are often at odds throughout the United States. The shortcomings of the fast food industry have been the subject of nationwide media attention in recent years. ABC News educated the American people about the use of "pink slime" in beef products in 2012, alerting the public that ammonia was commonly used to sanitize the bacteria-ridden ingredient. Since then, many corporations have pledged to discontinue the unsafe practice. By informing consumers about the dangers of the USDA's plans to cut chicken costs, activists hope that people will vote against the measure with their purchasing dollar.
A major problem with the USDA's plans is that Americans would be unable to discern meat processed domestically from meat sent abroad. The Chinese government's lax oversight into food production is a continued problem. In 2008, hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians became sick from milk that included dangerous adulterants. The same agents found their way into baby formula, forcing over 50,000 children to seek medical treatment. Six would later die from the contaminants.
A similar story reached international headlines in 2012. The Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, a Chinese top-producer in the dairy industry, was forced to recall thousands of baby formula units after testing showed signs of mercury contamination. While the incident is disturbing in its own right, the response of the Chinese government exacerbated the issue.
The Republic censured reports of the Yili mercury scare to ease concerns and protect the name of the corporation. This approach is reckless, and prioritized money interests over the awareness about the serious and ongoing health risk. While government's lack of foresight in terms of health standards is regrettable, their ongoing censorship is far worse than the original indiscretion.
The inclusion of Chinese processed chicken in the American diet would be a seeming step backwards in a country vying to source higher quality meat into school cafeterias, drive-through establishments and high-scale chains alike. The benefits are far outweighed by the potential dangers, as quick-fix business dealings will do little to help our consumers or domestic meat processors. While our capitalist economy is naturally concerned with the bottom-line, the unscrupulous actions of the Chinese government could return mainstream American cuisine to the former trajectory of "pink-slime," or worse.
- USDA to Allow U.S. to be Overrun with Contaminated Chicken from China (worldtruth.tv)
- Tyson Foods Recalling Over 75K Pounds of Chicken Nuggets (wifr.com)
- Chicken from China? (momsrising.org)
- Poisoned Chicken from China Could Soon Turn Up on Your Dinner Table ...Thanks USDA! (asheepnomore.net)
- USDA May Allow Chicken Grown and Sold in US to be Processed in China (inhabitat.com)
- USDA to allow U.S. to be overrun with contaminated chicken from China (sgtreport.com)