Cheap food just keeps getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper.

Oh, how low can it go??

If you’ve been buying conventional chicken and ordering it in restaurants thinking it is so much healthier than red meat (what a joke), try this info on for size.

Yet another round of bad news for conventional chicken is on the horizon hot on the heels of a recent lawsuit filed on behalf of the Center for Food Safety, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and several other environmental groups to force the FDA to respond to a three year old petition calling for immediate withdrawal of the FDA’s approval of arsenic-containing compounds as feed additives for chickens (yes, arsenic is STILL in your chicken).

“FDA leadership is asleep at the switch, if not turning a blind eye to public health,” said David Wallinga, MD, a physician with the IATP.

In typical stealth-mode fashion just before the Labor Day holiday, the USDA joined the FDA in its wallowing in the mud chicken policy by quietly green lighting 4 chicken processing plants in China effectively lifting the ban on Chinese processed poultry.  The chickens must be raised in either the US, Canada, or Chile (of all places) but after slaughter the chickens can be shipped all the way to China for processing.  The processed poultry can then be exported by China back to the US for consumers to unwittingly buy sans any labeling of country of origin (of course).

How’s this for warped logic? The USDA says that country of origin labeling is not necessary because no matter what is done to the chickens during processing in China, the chicken meat itself originated in the US.

What would you expect from the USDuh USDA?  After all, China is the world headquarters for food safety scandals with the most recent incident involving an outbreak of H7N9 bird flu virus in fresh meat markets.

The truth is that food safety standards in China are far below US standards and you may (or may not) be surprised to learn that USDA inspectors aren’t even required to be on site at these Chinese processing plants to make sure things stay on the up and up.

The scariest part of all of this to me is how it drives home the point of how globalized the industrial food system has truly become. Containerized shipping to the other side of the world on freighters which pollute and destroy our precious oceans (there is a vortex of garbage the size of Texas swirling in the middle of the Pacific Ocean primarily caused by these freighters) has now become so cheap that it makes more sense for companies to create a chicken nugget in China from chicken meat raised and slaughtered on the other side of the world to be ultimately sold on the other side of the world again in a Happy Meal to a US child than to do it all in roughly one place.

Buying local as a critical element to sourcing quality, nutritious food and voting green with your food dollars have never been more important than it is now!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


FDA ignores toxic arsenic in animal feed

Playing Chicken: Avoiding Arsenic in Your Meat

Officials say “okay” to processed chicken from China

Food Safety in China and the Risk to the US

USDA: Chicken Processed in China Can be Sold in the US Without Labels to Say So

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