China can now export poultry to the USA following a bilateral agreement. But it cannot. Health concerns are more important than free trade and block any meat product coming from China. By Simon Shane
China can now export poultry to the USA following a bilateral agreement. But it cannot. Health concerns are more important than free trade and block any meat product coming from China.
The recent bilateral agreement between the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and their counterpart in China, regarding equivalency of inspection standards has been effectively negated by the action of the US Congress. The agreement would have allowed US-origin poultry meat to be further-processed in designated plants in China. The cooked product could then have been re-exported to the USA. The initiative which was regarded as financially infeasible was tolerated by the Bush Administration, which supports the principle of free trade.
It is noted that China imports up to 300,000 metric tonnes of broiler products annually from the USA, mainly in the form of wing tips, feet and gizzards. Reciprocal trade has been advanced by China as a prerequisite for continued imports.
On May 3rd the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Agriculture passed a $94 billion Bill for food and agricultural programs which specifically bans importation of any product from China. Citing concerns regarding H5N1 avian influenza, Representative Rosa DeLauro, the senior Democrat on the spending subcommittee was the principal opponent of the amendment. “The public health risk increases exponentially when a product from China is undercooked, because the threat of avian flu is so high in that country” she said in supporting her position. She added “if undercooking can occur at a US plant, where there are daily inspections, think of how easy it would be for undercooking or other problems to occur in a Chinese plant, which is inspected by US inspectors only once per year”.
By: Simon Shane