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Chicken From China

June Pagan: Do you really want to serve your child a product that may contain chicken that was processed in a country that known to have high pollution levels of heavy metals and chemicals in their water and soil?

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I was thinking about Foster Farms recently, and their numerous offenses against their customers by continuing to put them at risk due to their poor processing practices and sanitation offenses. There have been far too many salmonella outbreaks from their poultry, yet they did not voluntarily recall their chicken from the marketplace. Instead, they pumped up their marketing campaign to assure the customer that the product is safe to eat. Foster Farms takes the position that the customer should be responsible for cooking the chicken to the proper degree, to eliminate the risk of getting salmonella poisoning.

Part of me wonders if the CEO of Foster Farms sits around the dinner table (where they are probably serving an expensive Petaluma Organic Free-Range chicken), talking about the new USDA regulation that is allowing processed chicken from China to enter the US marketplace. Is he really telling us, “If they think our processing methods are dubious, let them have the Chinese method?” Or is he instead deciding to jump on the “gravy train” by being one of China’s first customers?

Chicken Processing

We, as consumers, would not necessarily know, because as with GMO labeling, processed chicken from China that is cooked does not need to be labeled (as long as it is cooked). The next time you buy a frozen comfort food such as chicken pot pie, or pick up a can of chicken noodle soup for your child that is home sick with the flu, think again! Do you really want to serve your child a product that may contain chicken that was processed in a country that known to have high pollution levels of heavy metals and chemicals in their water and soil? Not to mention many outbreaks of Avian Virus?

This is how it is going to work: The chickens are raised and slaughtered here in the USA and Canada, then shipped to China, where they are processed by being cooked to 165.2°F. They are then used in products such as canned chicken soup, frozen chicken nuggets, after being shipped back to the US. Some of this chicken will be sold in products that are produced for the freezer section of your supermarket; or, it may find its way into various canned products. These products may have labels such as “Farm Fresh or Happy Chicken” to dupe you into thinking that it came from a wholesome farm operation. Since there is no requirement to label point of origin for that single ingredient, you won’t know that the chicken is coming from a processing plant in China. And buying organic won’t help you, because the same processing can be done with organic poultry as well and still be considered “organic” by the USDA Organic Certification program.

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We are getting into some seriously polluted waters here (pardon the pun). Take for example the recent sale of Smithfield Foods (originally called Smithfield Ham) to a Chinese company. (You know - the one that Paula Deen was the spokesperson for.) Well, Shanghai International now owns it and it is no longer an American company. This corporate acquisition happened after 11,000 dead pigs were found floating in a Chinese river, contaminating the water supply. Is our water supply next?

All of this outsourcing of food products is a sign of unrelenting greed on the part of our corporate food giants. They can outsource and prostitute themselves, selling the American consumer their poison, all the while trying to dupe us into thinking that they are still as American as apple pie. So what is the answer to this problem?

Reduce your intake of commercial poultry, and only buy product that you know is free of animal cruelty. It can be costly but what is the alternative? Consider serving a smaller portion of meat, using the bones to prepare a healthy bone broth, full of nutrients. Then, prepare creative menus that embellish the clean protein that we should be grateful to still have available to us. Having a reverence for clean food should be the focus.

If you would like to read more articles like this one and enjoy delicious recipes that are Flavorful, Affordable, Clean and Eco-conscious, please support the effort to get published by pre-ordering a copy of “Purple Pizza and Other Healthful Flavors to Savor.” Simply go to www.junepagan.com to see more.

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