The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Tony Corbo or Erin Greenfield
(202) 683-2500

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


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.

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.

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.'

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

"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.

Hauter's full testimony will be posted on at 2:00pm EST.

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.

Food & Water Watch mobilizes regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people's health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.

(202) 683-2500