SEASON 5, EPISODE 65 – BUYER BEWARE: CHICKEN FROM CHINA?
First Aired 12/10/13
Chicken processed in China will be sold in the US but who is going to make sure it’s safe? This is a huge public health risk and Dr Oz is outraged.
Among other things, the chicken will be made into canned soups, chicken nuggets, chicken wings, frozen foods, chicken patties and anything where the chicken is already cooked. The Chinese processor will cook the poultry and make it into various different products.
Recently, the USA government made a back-room move to allow chicken processed in China to be sold in U.S grocery stores and restaurants. The USDA has a plan to allow poultry raised in the US or Canada to be shipped to China where it will be processed and sent back to the U.S.
China has a long history of serving up unsafe food: for example, rat meat sold as lamb, pasta infested with maggots, baby formula poisoned with melamine and many more disturbing incidences. The USDA does not do the necessary food inspections to ensure safety of the incoming food. Less than 2% of food imported from China is inspected by the USDA. Even worse, the chicken processed in China as nuggets, wings or sold in restaurants won’t be labeled that it was processed in China, so the consumer will never know.
The importing of processed chicken from China hasn’t been implemented yet and Dr Oz wants us to fight back.
Chicken processed in the US and Canada follow very strict processing guidelines for slaughtering, processing and packing the meat to ship to grocery stores and restaurants.
Why would the US do this? The answer is money and politics (international trade.)
84% of Americans eat one or more meals a week that contains chicken purchased at the grocery store.
We would have to trust that China would follow our processing standards, but again, that’s hard to do with China’s history of unsafe food. The all too real concerns are avian influenza, melamine, antibiotic residue, chemical contamination (e.g. heavy metals) and more.
Since 2007 we’ve been importing pet jerky treats from China that contain chicken and 600 dogs and some cats have died and thousands have been sickened and we don’t know why. Experts believe that China’s food safety system is decades behind ours (and ours needs improvement.) China does not have an agency equivalent to our USDA or FDA to police their food production. For that matter, we wouldn’t even know if the chicken they send back to us is even really the same chicken that we sent to them. Again, it’s all based on trust.
Consumers also won’t know if the chicken comes from China because country of origin labeling is not required for food processing.
This chicken from China is a huge public health risk that we need to be aware of.
The USDA is saying that if China exports processed chicken products to the U.S. all food safety steps will be taken as if the products were processed in the U.S.”
Also, keep in mind that just cooking a product isn’t a sufficient safety process. The poultry has to actually be cooked at a proper temperature and we have to assume they don’t allow any cross-contamination. Finally, even cooking does’t prevent antibiotic resides and chemical contamination. Again, we have to trust that China would follow all of our processing standards.
Dr Michael Hansen has tips for consumers handling chicken:
- Assume the chicken is contaminated and put your chicken in a separate plastic bag at the store and tie it up so the liquid doesn’t seep into other products in your cart/bag and contaminate them. Also, often times the package is wet, so it’s best to put your hand inside the plastic bag and grab the chicken package and turn the bag inside out so your hand doesn’t get contaminated.
- Although 90% of people wash chicken before cooking it, you SHOULDN’T WASH the chicken because that can spread bacteria around.
- Don’t put the cooked meat back on the same plate that you set the raw meat before cooking.
Dr Oz is calling on the USDA to stop this chicken processing proposal and delay the importing of chicken from China until China has demonstrated a proven track record that shows it can regulate and enforce food safety principals properly.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/99329675@N02/