FDA allows US chicken processed in China to be sold here

(KHOU) - Recently passed federal regulations make it impossible for you to know just where your chicken has been. Even if it is "Made in the USA" it may be traveling 7,000 miles to China to be processed just to come back here to be sold.

At the Hausbar Farm they know plenty about chickens.

"We're organic," said Dorsey Barger of the Hausbar Farm. "We don't use any petrochemicals on the farm whatsoever."

She also knows what not to.

"It's the worst way we could possibly produce food," said Barger.

Barger is talking about a quietly passed federal rule that now allows chickens like hers born in Texas, or anywhere in the U.S., to be shipped to China to be processed and shipped back here to be eaten.

All that without any mention to you.

"This is a country that has a very poor safety record and the question is why on earth would we do that," said Bettina Siegal.

She is the Houston mother and food safety blogger that was responsible for raising awareness of so called "pink slime" processed filler meat made from slaughterhouse scraps in 2012 and she thinks the chicken shipping issue is worse.

"We'll never know about it and that's really troubling," said Siegal.

Parents like Shannon Johns who depend on chicken to keep picky kids happy are worried too.

"Our safety records are much better," said Johns. "So we try and steer clear of the stuff that's made abroad. Because you don't know what's in it."

She buys made in the USA but under these new rules, no "I've been to China" or any labels are required.

"I don't like that," said Johns. "It just seems weird to me that they would slaughter them, package them up, and send them abroad, to be broken down and sent back. It just seems silly."

But believe it or not it might be cheaper, and the farmers know it.

"Because the labor in China is so much less expensive than the labor here that it actually does make some sick economic sense to ship our food all the way across the world and back to us again," said Barger.

Siegal thinks she knows why this is all happening.

"In 2003 China stopped importing beef from the U.S. because of a mad cow scare, and so now there's pressure from China to let us take their chicken in exchange for them opening up their markets back up to U.S. beef," said Siegal.

The problem activists say is safety because chicken by nature can be dangerous.

It carries bacteria which can make you very sick that is why right there on the package there are plenty of warning labels about that.

There are numerous examples of tainted foods in China being sold and consumed making people sick, everything from tainted meat to baby formula tainted with mercury.

Just last year Chinese food safety officials said in a press conference that it was not fair to hold China to American safety standards.

"This is a country that has a food safety record that is decades behind ours," said Siegal. "It's widely believed this is the first step in the process allowing china to ship us chicken it raises and slaughters there."

"We don't have the right to know anything anymore," said Barger. "Labeling is so important and we're getting further away from the truth about our food instead of getting closer to the truth about our food."

That is no matter how many stops, or miles, or countries from the farm to your table.


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