U.S. to Import Processed Chicken From China; How Will it Affect Alabama?


By Ashley Thompson

The federal government has lifted a ban on importing processed chicken from China.

The Poultry and Egg Industry in Alabama is a 15 Billion dollar business. Alabama produces some of the most chicken in the country and now some are questioning why the U.S. will soon starting importing processed chicken from China.

"We were baffled by the decision," says Brett Hall, Alabama's Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.

Hall doesn't think the U.S. Department of Agriculture made the right decision in lifting the ban on processed chicken imports from China.

"Well there was a ban in the first place because U.S.' inspections of Chinese processing plants for poultry, they've always flunked these tests."

Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says China's poultry processing plants have passed inspections so the U.S. will begin to import their processed poultry, mainly chicken nuggets. But this doesn't mean Americans will actually be eating Chicken raised in China. Ray Hilburn with the Alabama Egg and Poultry Association explains.

"Part of this agreement is the poultry has to be originated in the U.S. or Canada," he explains. "We're not buying any raw product, it has to be fully cooked, the product does, before it comes back over here."

In Alabama, the chicken and poultry industry creates over 85 thousand jobs. Farmers work sun up to sun down in chicken houses raising poultry.

"I'm all for buying American products," farmer John Barr.

Barr has been a poultry and dairy farmer in Pike County for 64 years. He says he only supports American grown and processed chicken and believes others should as well.

"I think it should be a concern for the American public anytime we buy food from a foreign country because we don't know they're restrictions and regulations."

Under Alabama law, restaurants and grocery stores must disclose the point of origin for catfish and some seafood. Could the same be done for poultry?


"That is a matter yet to be pursued but hopefully we won't get to that point," says Hall.

The Alabama and Egg Association says lifting this ban could actually help America. They say as China's middle class grows, there will be more demand to buy poultry from the U.S. because they cannot produce it as safe.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service will annually audit Chinese poultry processing plants and poultry that comes into the U.S. will be inspected again.


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