By Heather Callaghan
There are many reasons, this year, to believe that the USDA will be more lax than ever on meat safety. Eat large-scale and processed meats at your own risk.
Just before Labor Day weekend, the USDA quietly admitted that they have lifted the ban against processed chicken imports from China.
This is of great concern for multiple reasons.
Unfortunately, under their rules for processed chicken products there need not be any country-of-origin information on labels. So there is no way to know if you’re eating products like chicken noodle soup, nuggets, or restaurant chicken ingredients from China, the U.S., or…where? Just an educated guess, but these are likely to end up in school lunches as they are also likely to come cheaply.
There will be four plants allowed to export processed chicken to begin with. They passed USDA in March, but apparently will receive no more inspection.
Chinese imports aren’t really inspected in general; that’s how arsenic ends up in apple juice, rice, and more. China uses pesticides that are either too heavy or not used as much in the U.S. – that’s the theory behind unsafe arsenic levels ending up in our imports. And we are none the wiser unless we get tests that can pick up those levels in us. And let’s not forget other crude substances like lead….
China has plenty of other food scandals; their safety requirements are dismal. They’ve even been caught feeding their people plastic rice. Recently thousands of dead pigs were floating in the water in Shanghai, mutton was discovered to be rat meat, and an outbreak of H7N9 bird flu appeared in their fresh markets.
So to reassure us, the USDA has also admitted that they don’t plan on having on-site inspectors. Nor are they planning to use inspectors for U.S. chicken anymore! They are taking the word of poultry processor employees. It will speed processing and it’s a great “money saver.” First we have bloated, burdensome regulatory rules…and then they can arbitrarily drop them because it saves them money. What do we pay them for again??
Here’s a red flag: the Government Accountability Office reports that the USDA is doing a poor job with its pilot programs and hints that it is unlikely to improve with new programs or keep watch on deadly bacteria like Salmonella.
But wait! Remember all those worldwide food poisonings that were questionably blamed on organic farms and mysteriously popped up right before the Food Safety Modernization Act was whisked on through?
It’s almost like the idea is to fail, to sicken people while demonizing peaceful raw milk farmers and organic/local, to keep distrust of the food system growing while keeping people dependent on it while they wait for global centralized food rules to “save the day…”
To keep from eating questionable foreign or domestic foods, it would be best to avoid all processed products and grocery items that come from big companies. You might find way more flavorful and nutritious fare at your local market or in a farm club.
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