There has been a heated Facebook discussion about the USA allowing American chickens to be processed in China – and this “processed chicken from China” does not need to be labeled as such. This has sparked outrage (delayed – as this became law in 2013 see Chinese Chicken Processors are Cleared for U.S. Imports – NY Times). Some have suggested that Tyson is sending their chickens to China to be processed into small chicken nuggests and sent back to the U.S. to be sold. The outrage has become so loud that even Tyson has publicly come out and said that this is all a hoax:
So What is the Truth? Does Tyson Plan to Process U.S. Chickens in China?
If you want a very brief answer – skip to the conclusion. If you want to know about the circumstances, please read below.
Before we can answer the question of whether Tyson plans to process poultry in China ,we first need to evaluate the history of the law that was passed to allow U.S. poultry to be processed in China.
In order to be able to process chicken in China, it meant that somebody (China) had to contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)(notation corrected 7/26/15) to certify that that China was “equivalent” in processing to the United States. This happened in 2004 when China lobbied the U.S. to process chicken (as well as to slaughter chicken and handle raw chicken – both of which have not been approved as of yet.) China received permission, in November 2005, when a branch of the USDA, the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS), passed the law allowing processing of chicken in China even though no “equivalent” processing plants were specifically approved. Following FSIS passing this law (still unfinalized), there was a two month period of final comments from Congress. Some people who received leaked news of this law, violently protested. But the law was finalized in 2006. However, the criticisms of the law raised the ire of many in Congress which then refused to fund this law from 2006 to 2009.
Revenge By China
Tyson says they are not planning on processing U.S. poultry in China. They don’t have to say why, but they are playing the money card. Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, in a recent Houston Chronicle article about our petition:
“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.”