Crazy to Ship Chicken to China for Processing? It’s Already Happening to Your Seafood

by Bettina Elias Siegel on March 4, 2014

The Change.org petition I launched in January with Nancy Huehnergarth and Barbara Kowalcyk, protesting the inclusion of Chinese-processed chicken in school meals, now has over 308,000 signatures.  Clearly a lot of you share our concern about that country’s terrible food safety record.

But are we creating a tempest in a teapot?  One refrain we’ve heard since launching the petition is that it just doesn’t make economic sense for any U.S. company to transport chicken a total of 14,000 miles solely to have it cooked.  For example, in a recent Houston Chronicle article about our petition, Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, said:

“Economically, it doesn’t make much sense,” Super said. “Think about it: A Chinese company would have to purchase frozen chicken in the United States, pay to ship it 7,000 miles, unload it, transport it to a processing plant, unpack it, cut it up, process/cook it, freeze it, repack it, transport it back to a port, then ship it another 7,000 miles. I don’t know how anyone could make a profit doing that.”

A 14,000 mile round trip just to be de-boned?

We’ve just traveled 7,000 miles to be de-boned – no wonder we look so confused!

But guess what?  The exact same arrangement is already being used – and quite profitably so – by purveyors of Pacific seafood who send their salmon and crab to China for de-boning and shelling.  Yesterday, my co-petitioner Nancy Huehnergarth and I published a piece on the Huffington Post (also appearing on Food Safety News) explaining how it all works.

Please take a look at the HuffPo piece and, if you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to sign and share our petition.  Every name counts in this effort to ensure that the chicken served in school meals — and sold in our supermarkets —  meets our own country’s safety standards.

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