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Do You Know Where your Chicken Comes From?

Update Date: Sep 06, 2013 10:35 AM EDT

Your next meal could have come straight from China, if it involves chicken that is. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the ban on processed chicken that is made from Chinese plants has been lifted. This announcement was made quite quietly last Friday before the start of Labor Day weekend. Now, without the ban, processed chicken meats imported from China can be sold in the U.S. without any labels informing consumers where the meat comes from.

Even though the ban was lifted, imports of products with cooked chicken will only come from four major Chinese processing plants. These four plants had successfully past the inspection conducted by the USDA. However, even though the plants are located in China, the chickens that they process, cook and export will have to originate from the U.S. and Canada. Due to the fact that this chicken was raised at home and nearby in Canada, the plants can work without a USDA inspector present. The products also do not need to include any labels that the meat was made in China.

Due to China's poor track record when it comes to food sanitation, some critics are worried about the lift on the ban. Even though the chickens will have to come from the U.S. or Canada, China's history with the avian flu is hard to ignore. On top of that, a recent investigation headed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that over 500 dogs and cats died due to Chinese chicken jerky treats. Despite these incidences, the U.S. has reopened chicken imports from China.

The U.S. and China have had several ups and downs when it comes to the meat trade. In 2003, China had banned U.S. beef due to the fear of mad cow disease. In 2004, U.S. banned China's imports of poultry after word of the bird flu virus got out. By 2010, the ban on Chinese chicken imports was lifted after China challenged the ban in front of the World Trade Organization. Even though the meat trade between the U.S. and China is important for politics, people might not help but cringe the next time they eat chicken, not knowing where the meat came from. 

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