On Aug. 27, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced something that has become routine in the United States – in this case, the recall of 8,316 pounds of pre-cooked breaded chicken meat called Mom’s Chicken Extra Thin Cutlets.
It’s possible the meat is infected with Listeria bacteria. Listeria can cause miscarriages in pregnant women. Some people can die from it. So you could say it was a good thing that FSIS inspectors in New Jersey discovered the tainted chicken in a routine inspection and announced the recall because some potentially bad meat got out to the public.
A lot of bad food slips into our grocery stores and restaurants undetected, and for the sake of a safer food supply it would be nice if money was made available so the government could hire more safety inspectors instead of reducing their numbers, but at least when food contaminated with dangerous germs is discovered by the government after the fact, some lives and hospital stays are prevented.
Now, however, you can kiss even this frayed safety net good-by.
That’s in part because of a sad deal that’s been at least a year and a half in the making, in which the USDA has agreed to let Chinese food companies import U.S. chickens, process them into “nuggets” and other substances and then export them right back to America. And in an evil twist, such chicken will not have any labels alerting grocery shoppers that it was sliced, diced and handled in China.
In my opinion, this deal is wrong on multiple levels. Lets start with the fact these chicken “products” won’t be labeled. Why does this matter? It matters because you cannot trust Chinese food processors to give you or your family healthy food to eat. For example, one day before USDA recalled the chicken I mentioned earlier in New Jersey, nine factories in four Chinese provinces were discovered to be processing and selling thousands of tons of chicken feet (considered a delicacy in China) that had been “treated” by being soaked in giant vats of hydrogen peroxide, bleach and other stomach-churning disinfectants unfit for human consumption.
You could tell me that the chicken-foot incident is just an anomaly that doesn’t reflect the quality and safety improvements China has enforced in its food processors, but if you did you would be utterly and horribly wrong.
So, aside from the fact that eating anything produced or processed in China is in itself a risky proposition, the question remains: How could it even begin to make economic sense for a giant American meat processor to slaughter and package whole chickens and then pay to have them shipped to China, then pay a Chinese food processor to “heat-treat” or cook the chickens and process them into breaded nuggets or patties, and then pay yet again to have the processed alleged meat shipped back to U.S. grocery stores?
Two words: Slave labor.
According to various sources, the average hourly wage at many American poultry processing plants waivers somewhere between $11 and $12. Meanwhile, workers in Chinese poultry plants reportedly are paid between $1 and $2 an hour. With that wage spread, the big Ag conglomerates and just take the same high road American manufacturers have driven for decades now. Unfortunately for American poultry plant workers, many of them are about to lose their dangerous, low-paying jobs. Unfortunately for American consumers, they are about to find out once again that you get what you pay for.
Bottom line, giant agricultural corporations have managed to
bribe successfully lobby members of the federal legislative and executive branches of government into drastically reducing domestic food inspectors, and now allowing food destined for American mouths to be subjected to the skills of what amounts to Chinese slaves.
And since such alleged food will not be labeled, the only action American consumers can take to protect themselves is to stop buying and eating all pre-processed chicken products. The hardest part of such action, for parents, is that their kids’ schools are always trying to save a buck for their squeezed budgets, so how long will it be before Chinese slave chicken winds up in those cafeterias? (Hint: Really, really not long.)
Meanwhile, don’t think you can necessarily rely on food from countries long certified by the USDA as necessarily being safe. That “New Jersey” chicken I mentioned as having been recalled, earlier in this post? Those “Mom’s Chicken Extra Thin Cutlets” are sold by TNUVA USA, a subsidiary of Israeli food powerhouse TNUFA Food Industries Ltd. The bags of potentially tainted chicken products were, according to the USDA release, marked with Israeli numerals and wording, indicating the products had been processed in Israel.
Except, huh, what do you know? If you look at TNUFA’s background, you find out that Bright Foods, a huge conglomerate owned by the Chinese government, signed a deal in May of this year and purchased TNUFA. That’s three months before the listeria-contaminated chicken, produced from Chinese-owned plants, was discovered by American inspectors in New Jersey. Coincidence?