Attention! Chinese poultry may be on your dinner plate sooner rather than later! It appears that America has kept their trade route open to Chinese chicken imports.
Since; ‘August 2013, FSIS announced that based on its review of China’s system for processed poultry, China is eligible to export processed, cooked chicken’ to the USA’ (1).
With evidence that China has relatively lax rules when it comes to preparing and producing poultry, it seems highly risky of the US to open its trading routes for chicken, considering the many different reports of avian flu and melamine poisoning in China.
Let’s explore the reasons Chinese chicken could be a risk not worth taking for the USA.
The Danger of Avian Flu
Unfortunately, avian flu is highly contagious in birds and can cause death and sickness in domesticated bird species, like chickens (2). This virus can be detrimental to farmers, and although it is uncommon to infect humans, it is not unheard of.
It was reported that ‘On 15 June 2016, the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) of China notified WHO of 5 additional laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus, including one death’ (3).
Considering human infection of avian flu is relevant in China, even to this day, why would the USA want to continue allowing their trade route of poultry to be open.
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It seems that there is a lack of concern regarding the major health effects imported Chinese chicken could have on both American chickens/ bird livestock and their citizens!
The Presence of Melamine
Melamine is a nitrogen-rich product that is used in the production of glass, plastics, adhesives and paper. It doesn’t sound like something you would want to eat, does it?
‘A massive outbreak of renal failure in cats and dogs in the United States of America (USA) in 2007 associated with pet food containing melamine and cyanuric acid and hospitalisation of over 50 000 children in China in 2008 linked to consumption of melamine’ (4), this shows the horrible consequences of consuming products containing melamine.
The pet food where melamine was found was also ‘imported into the United States from China‘(5), where a portion of it was used to produce farm animal and fish food. It was also found that other well-known products from huge companies such as Mars, Heinz, and Cadbury all included melamine-tainted milk- the same one that infected all of these children in China, causing them to be gravely ill (6).
With risks of infected melamine products being exported from China to the USA, it seems ridiculous that we want to take that chance by opening our waters to poultry just to satisfy trade agreements.
Discover how you can avoid buying imported, and potentially infected, poultry below.
How to Avoid Chinese Poultry
When you are out shopping for that perfect chicken to go with your roast dinner, keep an eye on all of the labels. You will want to avoid any imported products; read the label to make sure the chicken was born and raised in the country you’re living in. Then you can be reassured that the health standards for keeping and preparing the livestock were up to scratch.
You are also going to want to avoid barn or cage raised chickens and opt for free range instead! These chickens have much better, healthier lives. This makes their meat a lot tastier and healthier looking, plus you won’t feel as guilty when buying it.
If organic chicken sold in your grocery store is too expensive for you, then try other options that might be cheaper! Go to your local butchers and farmers and see what is fresh, free range and a good alternative. You may also want to try replacing chicken with high protein vegetables and fish- here are some delicious recipes that won’t make you miss chicken one bit!
Please note that ‘China remains eligible to export poultry products from approved sources to the United States. However, since China’s reinstatement of eligibility in August 2013, no processed poultry has been exported from China to the United States’ (9).
It is clear that there are multiple health risks associated with importing products from China as it is considered that ‘China’s food safety system is a wreck‘ (10). Don’t risk your health- buy home-raised, organic produce or just avoid chicken altogether!
(1)The United States Department of Agriculture. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/newsroom/news-releases-statements-transcripts/news-release-archives-by-year/archive/2016/faq-china-030416 Updated: March 4, 2016. Accessed: November 14, 2016.
(2)Avian Influenza in Birds. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/avian-in-birds.htm Updated: April 2015. Accessed: November 14, 2016.
(3)World Health Organization- Human Infection With Avian Influenza A(H7N9) virus- China. http://www.who.int/csr/don/01-july-2016-ah7n9-china/en/ Published: July 1, 2016. Accessed: November 14, 2016.
(4) Melamine in sh feed and implications for the safety of aquaculture products http://www.fao.org/3/a-i0988e/i0988e16.pdf Published: N/A. Accessed: November 14, 2016.
(5)U.S Food And Drug Administration- Melamine Pet Food Recall of 2007. http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/RecallsWithdrawals/ucm129575.htm Updates: July 22, 2016. Accessed: November 14, 2016.
(6)A Decade of Dangerous Food Imports from China. https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/Dangerous%20Food%20Imports%20China%20Report%20Jun%202011.pdf Published: June 2011. Accessed: November 14, 2016.
(7)Meat and Poultry Labeling Terms. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/food-labeling/meat-and-poultry-labeling-terms/meat-and-poultry-labeling-terms Updated: August 10, 2015. Accessed: November 14, 2016.
(9)United States Department of Agriculture. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/newsroom/news-releases-statements-transcripts/news-release-archives-by-year/archive/2016/faq-china-030416 Updated: March 4, 2016. Accessed: November 14, 2016.
(10)Chicken Imports from China A Raw Deal for the USA. http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/chicken-imports-china-raw-deal-us-consumers Published: November 14, 2014. Accessed: November 14, 2016.
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