Food & Water Watch to Congress: Start Equivalency Process from Scratch for Chinese Imports

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Food & Water Watch to Congress: Start Equivalency Process from Scratch for Chinese Imports

Consumer Group Urges USDA to Rescind Flawed Chinese Chicken Import Rule and Renew Approval Process at House Agriculture Subcommittee Hearing

WASHINGTON - Today, Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch,
testified before the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural
Development and Food and Drug Administration and recommended the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) restart its approval process in
granting China equivalency status before importing processed poultry
products. Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to maintain
a ban on imported processed poultry products from China; however, the
ban is currently before the U.S. Senate and under threat as pressure
increases from agribusiness to end the prohibition in the USDA budget.

“Before
we open the floodgates for potentially dangerous chicken products to
land on American plates, we need to ensure that China’s food safety
laws and regulations meet U.S. standards,” stated Hauter.

According
to Food & Water Watch, USDA rulemaking in 2006 was flawed, as the
agency rushed through the process and ignored the overwhelming majority
of submitted comments against granting China equivalency status based
on deficiencies in the Chinese food safety inspection system. U.S.
inspectors found defective equipment, lack of employee hygiene,
unsanitary conditions in Chinese facilities, and an absence of testing
programs for Salmonella, E. coli and other contaminants. As recently as
this spring, officials of China’s Health Ministry described their food
safety situation as ‘grim, with high risks and contradictions.’

Some
domestic agribusiness trade associations have been vocal in pressing
for a removal of the ban on the importation of processed poultry
products because they view it as an impediment to the export of U.S.
beef to China.

“Trade should not trump public health,” argued
Hauter. “While China might view this as a quid pro quo, the welfare of
U.S. consumers should not be sacrificed so that we can open up new
export markets.”

Food & Water Watch recommends USDA rescind
the April 2006 rule that limited Chinese exports to fully cooked
shelf-stable poultry products and start from scratch in determining if
products from Chinese poultry slaughter facilities are eligible for
export.

“We should wait to see how [China’s] new food safety law
works and whether the government can enforce it before we allow them to
export any more food to us,” concluded Hauter.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

Hauter’s full testimony will be posted on www.foodandwaterwatch.org at 2:00pm EST.

The
House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug
Administration, and Related Agencies hearing will be held today at
11:00am EST at 2362-A Rayburn.

 

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Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

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