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Americans’ favorite meat just got riskier to eat

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arirish View Drop Down
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    Posted: November 17 2017 at 7:58am
Question: Is it just a coincidence that 60 days ago China stopped reporting cases and outbreaks? Do they really have avian flu contained or is the news being censored?


Are China’s Chickens Contaminating America’s Plates?

Americans’ favorite meat just got riskier to eat.

This summer saw a quiet, but potentially momentous, shift in the economic relationship between the United States and China. It centers on chicken.

On June 27, a 90-pound shipment of cooked chicken from China departed Qingdao in Shandong province and headed to the United States. It will almost certainly be the first of many such shipments, in accordance with a proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in mid-June to allow chickens slaughtered and processed in China to be exported to the United States for the first time since 2004.

It was a step that Chinese policymakers had long requested — and one that had long stirred controversy among their U.S. counterparts, who cited a long history of consumer safety scandals in China. The best-known scandal dates to 2008, when baby formula adulterated with melamine caused 54,000 babies to become sick, resulting in the deaths of six — that was not long after the discovery of melamine-contaminated wheat gluten and rice protein exported to the U.S. market and of Chinese-made dumplings tainted with the insecticide methamidophos.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) criticized the idea of expanding chicken imports from China as a slap in the face to American consumers, who purchase more chicken than any other meat: “Plain and simple, President Trump and the officials at USDA are prioritizing trade over the health and safety of American families.” Chinese officials and industrial executives, on the other hand, are baffled by the persistent resistance from the U.S. Congress, noting that their chicken processing facilities have a long record of exporting products to Japan and the European Union, where food safety regulations are as tight as in the United States, if not tighter.

The reality is more nuanced. Panic at the prospect of imported Chinese chicken is certainly unwarranted. But any fair assessment of the issue demands that America’s consumer safety authorities, and the hundreds of millions of meat-eaters they serve, become more vigilant.

The Chicken Odyssey

While it takes only 11 hours by air to transport the chicken meat from Qingdao to Los Angeles, it took 14 years for cooked poultry from China to return to the United States — an odyssey compounded by politics, protectionism, and public health concerns. In early 2004, during the H5N1 bird flu outbreak, China stopped importing poultry products from the United States. Later, it agreed to call off the ban, but the United States failed to reciprocate.

The primary reason for this was that Congress prohibited the USDA from using any funds to establish or implement a rule allowing imports of Chinese poultry products. Between 2004 and 2008, U.S. chicken exports to China saw a nearly 2,000 percent increase, from 36 million pounds to 734 million pounds, but China’s chicken meat exports to the U.S. remained at zero. Upset by this trade imbalance, some Chinese business leaders called for the government to inflict equivalent retaliation. In response, China has maintained high tariffs on U.S. poultry exports despite a 2013 World Trade Organization finding that the duties breached WTO rules. In June 2009, China also filed a complaint with the WTO, which later ruled that the U.S. ban fundamentally violated relevant WTO rules. Amid fears of a tit-for-tat trade war, Congress lifted the ban on Chinese-processed poultry, on the condition that China would pass USDA on-site audits and sanitary inspections. While the first audit revealed that China failed to comply with U.S. standards, the second audit found that China had corrected all issues identified in the previous audit. This paved the way for the USDA to lift the ban on processed Chinese poultry in August 2013. Due to lingering food safety concerns, though, the U.S. has only allowed the importation of poultry products that are processed but not slaughtered in China. The new proposed plan would allow China to export poultry products from birds raised and slaughtered there.
But even staunch defenders of free trade cannot brush off the concerns about food safety issues associated with Chinese poultry. Historically, China’s food safety record has been poor, if not terrifying. Between 2003 and 2014, at least 37 fake and toxic food safety scandals were reported in Chinese media.

Over the past two or three years, however, the Chinese government has undertaken some important steps to improve food safety in China, including the promulgation of a revised Food Safety Law in 2015, which was touted as China’s toughest food safety law to date. Since then, major food safety scandals have rarely been reported. Government-sponsored surveys also suggested growing consumer confidence in food safety in China. The improvement in China’s food safety is indicated by results of food safety inspections conducted by AsiaInspection, a China-based quality control and compliance company, which found that about 40 percent of the factories it inspected in China in 2015 failed to meet health and safety standards, compared with 48 percent in 2014.

But as a 2016 report prepared by some of the country’s leading food safety experts acknowledged, sustained food safety risks are still present in stages of production, processing, distribution, and consumption. The government’s regulatory capacity in food safety remains weak. Efforts to merge the functions of several bureaucratic agencies (food and drug safety, quality inspection, and administration of commerce and trade) into one market supervision administration have only undercut the role of food safety regulators. In one county, the new administration of market and quality supervision has a total staff of only 37 (including 14 in leadership positions), who have to regulate over 1,000 catering businesses in the county seat alone.





http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/11/16/are-chinas-chickens-contaminating-americas-plates/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote carbon20 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 17 2017 at 2:04pm
The Chinese community over here, buy up as much Baby formula as the shops will allow  them to,

(there has been fights in the stores over it , they buy it ALL!!! as soon as it hits the shop floor non left for Australian babies)

to send back to China, it seems they dont TRUST their own home made brand,(mixed with Melamine )

the Chinese have just bought a Dairy here ?????!!!!!!!

i buy LOCAL milk from Local producers

Six years ago today, sixteen infants in China’s Gansu Province were diagnosed with kidney stones. All of them had been fed milk powder that was later found to have been adulterated with a toxic industrial compound called melamine. Four months later, an estimated 300,000 babies in China were sick from the contaminated milk, and the kidney damage led to six fatalities. The Sanlu Group, one of the largest dairy producers in China, was identified as the chief culprit. But as the scandal unfolded, more Chinese dairy firms became implicated.

The incident not only damaged the reputation of China’s food exports, but also dealt a devastating blow to the booming domestic dairy industry, leading to a series of mergers and consolidations. The inelastic baby formula market boosted the demand for foreign products—indeed, after 2009, more than 100 foreign brands flooded into the Chinese market. In hindsight, it is not an overstatement that the 2008 incident is one of the largest food safety scandals in PRC history.

The scandal lays bare China’s failure to build an effective regulatory state in its transition to a market economy. Drawing lessons from the crisis, the government sought to strengthen its regulatory capacity in food safety control. In June 2009, China promulgated the Food Safety Law, which prohibits any use of unauthorized food additives. The law also led to the establishment of a high-profile central commission to improve inter-state coordination and enforcement of food safety regulation at the national level. In March 2013, China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) was set up as a ministry-level agency to consolidate authorities in food and drug safety.

These measures, while important and necessary, have not led to significant improvement in China’s food safety. At the State Council Food Safety Commission meeting in January 2013, Premier Li admitted that while food safety has improved, “there are still a great deal of outstanding problems and potential hidden dangers; the situation remains grim.” China’s efforts to address food safety are complicated by new environmental health hazards, such as pollution of  water and soil. Rice and garden vegetables contaminated by heavy metals poses major health risks, but the cleanup is highly costly and may take decades. Consumer confidence in Chinese dairy products remains extremely weak. Official media suggests that over half of the Chinese baby formula market is dominated by foreign brands, and in some cities, the share is as high as 80 percent. In a desperate and bizarre move to beef up the domestic dairy industry, China issued a new regulation that banned the import of dairy products from unregistered overseas manufacturers.

In recognition of the challenges, the government leaders over the past months have upped the ante for food safety. In March, Premier Li Keqiang used the melamine scandal to argue for “the strictest possible oversight and accountability” and “toughest possible punishment” in safeguarding food safety. Under Li’s blessings, China last week unveiled the draft amendment to the 2009 Food Safety Law. Dubbed “the strictest food safety law in history,” the new version has raised the bar of food safety management and provided more explicit requirements for government agencies to follow in the food supply chain.

But how effective these efforts remains to be seen. Since the regulation of food safety incorporates several mutually reinforcing activities (production, marketing and consumption) and involves various stakeholders (e.g., manufacturers, traders, consumers, governmental actors), it is highly unlikely that pure top-down, state-centric  regulatory and legal frameworks will be sufficient to defuse China’s food safety crisis. In order to achieve robust and sustainable regulatory capacity, the government should invest in the building of a vigorous civil society and a free and socially responsible media, which would serve as sources of information and discipline in enforcing food safety laws and regulations.  It should be committed to the building of an independent court system to protect the food safety legal framework from being hijacked by self-serving bureaucrats or other vested interests.  It should also be serious about establishing a code of business ethics at corporate and individual level to keep the “capitalism without ethics” in check.  Such institutional support, as a demonstrated in my recent book, will enable China to build its regulatory state from more solid ground.





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CRS, DrPH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 17 2017 at 5:23pm
There is a surprising amount of processed food imported from China.  My wife loves canned mandarin oranges, guess where they are from!  

 Also, much of our farmed seafood (shrimp, tilapia) is from China, and these are contaminated with antibiotics and other substances that are illegal to use in US aquaculture. 

USDA and FDA are supposed to inspect foreign facilities to ensure that they are up to US standards, but I doubt if this is truly the case.   I try to avoid the "Made in China" label when it comes to foodstuffs. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KiwiMum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 17 2017 at 5:29pm
I prefer to buy my chickens alive and then kill and prep them myself. There are always people who need to get rid of unwanted cockerels but won't kill them themselves. Often they'll give them away for nothing so it just costs me the petrol to pick them up. 

Strangely loads of adverts for unwanted chickens say "not for eating" but do these people really believe we run a retirement home for chickens? Surely not. Normally we kill them as soon as we get home. It really doesn't take much to pluck and gut a chicken. I average about 20 minutes a bird and it's oven or freezer ready. It's a much safer option than buying chicken from an unknown source.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arirish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 17 2017 at 7:54pm
KiwiMum- We hatch a few eggs 3-4 times a year. My wife likes to let the hens set and I prefer the incubator and brooder house. We butcher the cockerels unless we need a new rooster and call the yard "the Boston Mountain Home for Old Hens"! Once a year or so we hatch out too many hens and butcher at around 2.5lbs or so. How do you kill yours? My grandad used a chopping block. I prefer to hang ours by the feet and slit the throat, once they bleed out i remove the head and straight into a scalding pot. It used to be easier when the boys were still here! We made a family day of it and had the best chicken of the year that evening! Most people don't understand how good really fresh, naturally raised meat taste! The Chinese have that right! It's just their methods are bad! Hope you have a very Kiwis Christmas!     
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KiwiMum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 18 2017 at 8:05pm
Arirish, we chop the heads off. We used to pull their necks, but I'm not very tall and my arms aren't long enough for that. We also grow some mighty big meaty cockerels and they were just very hard to break the neck of, so now we chop off their heads. 

We always wait until after dark when they are roosting, I hold the torch and my husband chops off their heads. We work in silence and the birds hardly make any sound at all. They are very relaxed. We string them up by their feet with baler twine on the fence once they are headless until we've killed them all and then carry them in and hang them under the verandah overnight. I then scald, pluck and gut the next day. I like to work with 6 birds at a time as that's a very manageable number.

Last year we put in an outdoor sink with huge draining boards (all in stainless steel) on our back verandah and it has hot and cold running water to it. This is great for scrubbing potatoes and for gutting chickens.

I've just found the materials I need to make a killing cone, and once it's up on a fence post then I'll be able to kill even the largest bird on my own. You put the chicken in it upside down and then slit it's throat. The cone prevents the bird from flapping. 

The year before last I grew and killed 75 chickens which was way more than we needed. Normally it's about 30. I like them to be close to a year old when we kill them. Our chickens live in a very large orchard and run free in there, so they are well formed. We don't have foxes here in NZ but where I live, by the mountains, we do have huge hawks, hundreds of them and they will kill a chicken if they can. 

I have bottled chicken in the past which looks appalling but is so convenient to cook with. Personally I never remember to get things out of the freezer. Now, unless it's a roasting bird, I cook all my chicken (6 birds at a time in a huge pot), remove the meat, boil down the bones and then bag up 500g of meat with a litre of stock, and freeze it like that. It's fantastic. That's a large enough portion for a great chicken pie or curry or anything else you fancy. 

We love chicken, and our chicken tastes very chickeny.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote arirish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 19 2017 at 11:24am
KiwiMum - We can't free range here, too many coyotes! We keep ours in a large fenced yard. I just installed a battery operated door on the coop that opens at sunrise and closes at sunset! It's great for weekend trips cause we don't have to find anyone to let them in and out! Your sink sounds great! I bet it's handy for potting too!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote KiwiMum Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 19 2017 at 12:46pm
The sink is amazing. I use it to wash the dogs, gumboots, muddy things. We also fill our buckets for milking from there instead of in the house like we used to and drip water all the way out through the back door. I have a seperate set up for potting in the vege garden. It makes such a difference being able to wash things in warm water on a cold winters day and not the ice cold water I was used to. The sink was an ex-industrial one and I paid $10 for it online. 
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