Schumer seeks tougher standards for Chinese chicken

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer says he wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make it tougher on processed chickens that will soon come from China for sale in the United States.

The USDA this month approved the sale of chickens raised in the United States but processed in China to be sold back in the United States.

Schumer says tougher enforcement of health standards are needed to protect consumers.

Schumer is calling on the USDA to take two immediate steps to ensure the safety of chickens processed in China and sold in the United States. He says the U.S. must increase the number of on-the-ground audits and inspections of the Chinese inspection system and all Chinese facilities where meat is processed. He also says the U.S. needs to increase inspections of chicken meat shipped back to the U.S. with the highest level of scrutiny and frequency in order to make sure the meat is safe to be eaten and that it originated in the United States.

Schumer says the measures to ensure the safety of chickens processed in China and sold in the U.S. should be required because of the history of food-borne illnesses stemming from food products that originate in China.

The Democrat cites cases of contaminated milk and meat, including arsenic in calamari and rice, maggots in pasta and glass chips in pumpkin seeds, coming from China as reason for stepped-up enforcement.

Right now the USDA does not require country-of origin labeling for food that is processed in another country and Schumer says that means consumers won't have any idea their food has been processed in China.

In a press release, Schumer said, "Given Chinese processors poor track record with regard to food-safety standards, the USDA should be taking every possible step to ensure that the chicken that ends up on our plates and in our McNuggets is safe â?? and raised right here in the United States â?? where we have significant oversight and safety standards."

The USDA recently ended the U.S. ban on processed chicken imports from China. Click here for more information on the USDA's report on the equivalence of China's poultry processing system.

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.)

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