The short answer is no. It has been reported by various media outlets that US corporations are shipping poultry to China. Chinese plants are processing this poultry, then shipping it back to be sold in the United States. In reality, this is nothing more than willful ignorance and poor reading comprehension.
Exports of poultry to China is a 25 billion dollar business.
On August 30, 2013 the United States Department of Agriculture and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) wrote this letter to Li Chunfeng – Deputy Director General of the People’s Republic of China.
As all outstanding issues have been resolved, the PRC may proceed with certifying a list of poultry processing establishments as meeting the FSIS requirements. These certified establishments may then begin exporting processed (heat-treated/cooked) poultry products to the United States under the conditions established in FSIS’ April 2006 final rule; i.e. only processed poultry products produced from poultry slaughtered under FSIS inspection in the United States or in a country eligible to export slaughtered poultry to the United States.
Based on the above quote we can assume the United States has given the green light to import poultry products from the Peoples Republic of China – provided that it meets the specified requirements set by FSIS. There is nothing in the text to indicate importing American poultry for processing.
Yet somehow, even from this basic letter, disinformation is created. Recently, Popular Health Caucus published USDA Now Allows American Poultry to Be Processed in China, Then Sent Back to America:
“Though it’s a disgrace I can accept the fact that the USDA allows our food to be shipped to the most corrosive and dirty nation in Asia only to be processed, intoxicated with subatomic bacteria, then shipped back for our families to eat.”
Alex Jones was in on the rumor mongering when the letter was first published in December 2013
“…the meat must originate either in the United States or in another country where the poultry population has been certified to be safe. What that means is that chickens from the United States will be shipped all the way over to China, processed in plants over there, and then shipped back across the Pacific Ocean for us to eat…”
Let’s think about this economically- a Chinese company would have to negotiate a deal with an American company to ship frozen poultry 7,000 miles. The Chinese company with then have to unload the poultry, process the poultry, package the processed poultry, transport the poultry back to the ship which will then make its way back 7,000 miles. That doesn’t seem like a good way to make a profit.
The People’s Republic of China does import a lot of meat and eggs from the United States. According to this statement, that was 131,133 total tons of poultry and egg US exports in 2014, which is valued at $25 billion by Mother Jones. While $25 billion may seem like lot, it is only a drop in the bucket for China’s food demands. A noted in this 2014 USDA study – that demand isn’t slowing down.
As the broader population gains a taste for these meats, supply is falling behind demand and prices are soaring. China will continue to produce nearly all of its own meat; however, imports of beef have grown sharply since 2010 and are expected to rise to over 750,000 mmt by 2023/24. Despite this increase, imports will account for only 3 percent of China’s meat consumption by the end of the decade. China’s beef imports come primarily from Oceania and Latin America, as China’s market has been closed to U.S. beef for the past 10 years due to BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) concerns.
The scenario presented by Doug at the Population Health Caucus is pretty far from the truth. The likeliest scenario is that US corporations are sending product to be sold in China. That’s it. And now that China has officially ended the one child policy, they’ll be consuming even more.
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