June 14, 2015

USA: House Votes To Repeal Country-Of-Origin Labeling On Meat. I Don't Want Any Meat From China. :( USDA On Board With Shipping U.S. Chickens To China For Processing, Then Re-Entry To States For Human Consumption.

My Way News
written by Mary Clare Jalonick
Thursday June 11, 2015

WASHINGTON — Under threat of trade retaliation from Canada and Mexico, the House has voted to to repeal a law requiring country-of-origin labels on packages of beef, pork and poultry.

The World Trade Organization rejected a U.S. appeal last month, ruling the labels that say where animals were born, raised and slaughtered are discriminatory against the two U.S. border countries. Both have said they plan to ask the WTO for permission to impose billions of dollars in tariffs on American goods.

The House voted 300-131 to repeal labels that tell consumers what countries the meat is from — for example, "born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States" or "born, raised and slaughtered in the United States."

The WTO ruled against the labels last year. The Obama administration has already revised the labels once to try to comply with previous WTO rulings. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said it's up to Congress to change the law to avoid retaliation from the two countries.

The law was initially written at the behest of northern U.S. ranchers who compete with the Canadian cattle industry. It also was backed by consumer advocates who say it helps shoppers know where their food comes from.

Supporters have called on the U.S. government to negotiate with Canada and Mexico to find labels acceptable to all countries.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said repeal would be premature, adding, "Our people deserve a right to know where their food is produced and where it comes from."

Meat processors who buy animals from abroad as well as many others in the U.S. meat industry have called for a repeal of the law they have fought for years, including unsuccessfully in federal court. They say it's burdensome and costly for producers and retailers.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, has long backed the meat industry's call for repeal.

"Although some consumers desire (country-of-origin labeling) information, there is no evidence to conclude that this mandatory labeling translates into market-measurable increases in consumer demand for beef, pork or chicken," Conaway said on the House floor.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after the vote that the last thing American farmers need "is for Congress to sit idly by as international bureaucrats seek to punish them through retaliatory trade policies that could devastate agriculture as well as other industries."

The bill would go beyond just the muscle cuts of red meat that were covered under the WTO case, repealing country-of-origin labeling for poultry, ground beef and ground pork. The chicken industry has said the labeling doesn't make much sense for poultry farmers because the majority of chicken consumed in the United States is hatched, raised and processed domestically.

The legislation would leave in place country-of-origin labeling requirements for several other commodities, including lamb, venison, seafood, fruits and vegetables and some nuts.

Canada and Mexico have opposed the labeling because it causes their animals to be segregated from those of U.S. origin — a costly process that has led some U.S. companies to stop buying exports.

The two countries have said that if they are allowed by the WTO, they may impose retaliatory measures such as tariffs against a variety of U.S. imports. Their list includes food items like beef, pork, cheese, corn, cherries, maple syrup, chocolate and pasta, plus non-agricultural goods such as mattresses, wooden furniture and jewelry. The retaliatory measures could total more than $3 billion, the countries said.

Congress required the labels in 2002 and 2008 farm laws. The original labels created by USDA were less specific, saying a product was a "product of U.S." or "product of U.S. and Canada." The WTO rejected those labels in 2012, and USDA tried again with the more detailed labels a year later. The WTO rejected those revised rules last year, and the United States filed one last appeal, rejected in May by the WTO.

On the Senate side, Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has said he will move quickly to respond to the WTO ruling, though he has yet to introduce a bill.

After the House vote, Roberts said repeal "remains the surest way to protect the American economy" from retaliatory tariffs.


Complete Health and Happiness
written by Staff
December 4, 2014

“Chinese chicken” will soon have a whole new meaning, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently gave the green-light to four chicken processing plants in China, allowing chicken raised and slaughtered in the U.S. to be exported to China for processing, and then shipped back to the U.S. and sold on grocery shelves here. Furthermore, the imported processed poultry will not require a country-of-origin label nor will U.S. inspectors be on site at processing plants in China before it is shipped to the United States for human consumption.

Food safety experts worry about the quality of chicken processed in a country notorious for avian influenza and food-borne illnesses. And they predict that China will eventually seek to broaden the export rules to allow chickens born and raised in China.

“Economically, it doesn’t make much sense,” said Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, in a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle. “Think about it: A Chinese company would have to purchase frozen chicken in the U.S., 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.”

Bureau of Labor Statistics data estimates that American poultry processors are paid roughly $11 per hour on average. In China, reports have circulated that the country’s chicken workers can earn significantly less—$1 to 2 per hour—which casts doubt on Super’s economic feasibility assessment.

This process is already being used for U.S. seafood. According to the Seattle Times, domestically caught Pacific salmon and Dungeness crab are currently being processed in China and shipped back to the U.S., all because of significant cost savings:
…fish processors in the Northwest, including Seattle-based Trident Seafoods, are sending part of their catch of Alaskan salmon or Dungeness crab to China to be filleted or de-shelled before returning to U.S. tables.

“There are 36 pin bones in a salmon and the best way to remove them is by hand,” says Charles Bundrant, founder of Trident, which ships about 30 million pounds of its 1.2 billion-pound annual harvest to China for processing. “Something that would cost us $1 per pound labor here, they get it done for 20 cents in China.”
China has an infamous reputation as one of the world’s worst food safety offenders. Earlier this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a report on a Chinese chicken jerky manufacturer that created dog treats tied to more than 500 dogs’ deaths.

Food Safety News aims to spread awareness of the pending USDA agreement and stop Chinese-processed chicken from ever reaching supermarkets or school lunchrooms.
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