business news in context, analysis with attitude

On Friday, MNB took note of a New York Times report that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is reversing policy and "will allow Chinese poultry processing companies to ship fully cooked, frozen and refrigerated chicken to the United States.

The move has been criticized by some food safety activists, who say that China's questionable record in this area makes it dangerous to accept their products.

The Times wrote that "China has wanted its chicken to be accepted as a quid pro quo for lifting a ban it imposed on United States beef products in 2003 after a cow in Washington state was found to have mad cow disease."

My comment:

If the chicken said "imported from China," would you buy it? Because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't …

One MNB user wrote:

I’m saddened that people immediately jump to the same old food safety argument whenever we converse about food imports from China.  Have we already forgotten our own spinach disaster or the peanut cluster (pun intended)?

But why do we need Chinese chicken?  We think we need it because we’re on a constant hunt to create cheaper and cheaper ingredients.  We’re not willing to pay American farmers and food producers well.  We’re even importing organic dairy while we watch American organic dairy farmers get off-the-farm jobs to support the farm or face bankruptcy.  I don’t even think the consumer will get to vote on the Chinese-sourced chicken – I think we’ll be served this chicken in its prepared state, and be none the wiser.

We want transparency but don’t insist upon it (all pretty much for an invented fear of extra expense).  We’re making it easier for retailers who create transparency and trust to thrive,  while the rest of our industry defends the right to keep facts secret – and fights flat sales by trying to go even cheaper.

Currently, we’re food-reliant on China.  At what point will we begin to worry about it?  Will we wait until we’re not even farming our own and we become food-dependent?   What a mess we are creating for Generations Y and Z.

From another reader:

Unless some regulation has been changed …. I hate to break this to you and the rest of your readers, but once that "Chinese chicken" is cooked, that changes the rules of the COOL regulations and the Country of origin does NOT need to be declared!

We simply will not know where that chicken came from?………SCARY!!!!!

And another:

THAT move will drive Country of Origin labeling on meats AND in ingredient statements of other processed foods whereas now if it is assembled and substantively changed in the states, the product does not require Country of Origin declaration of ingredients.   They just handed food activists a great big pile of manure to cultivate a great case for new disclosures, new packaging, over a broad spectrum of products.  And can likely reduce sales of US chickens, ANY chickens for that matter.  I would drop this from our diets in a heartbeat even though a beloved food if I could not be certain it was from China.

Just how stupid are we?

And still another:

Not much to say here. Just another good reason for COOL..

KC's View: