U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro this week urged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to walk away from plans to allow poultry raised in China to be imported to the United States.
“The safety of our nation’s food supply should not be compromised by politicized, quid-pro-quo trade negotiations,” DeLauro said in a letter to Perdue. “Allowing China to export Chinese-raised poultry poses serious risks to public health and consumer safety.”
DeLauro sent the letter after becoming alarmed by reports that suggest the Trump Administration is moving forward with its plan to allow poultry imports from China even as a former top official of that nation’s Food and Drug Administration has described the Chinese food system as having “deep-seated problems,” she said.
As a further example, she cited an article from the July 2014 issue of Polish Journal of Environmental Studies that reported cadmium and other heavy metals have been shown to accumulate in Chinese chicken tissue, likely from animal feed and soil contamination as a result of China’s coal mining industry.
DeLauro said she was “appalled” that officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service were not included in recent meetings between Under Secretary Ted McKinney and deputy director Zhang Jiwen to discuss agricultural trade issues including poultry products.
“These current discussions, with respect to poultry products, should cease until a more transparent process can take its place moving forward. That process should include all relevant stakeholders, including food safety experts and consumer advocates,” she wrote.
DeLauro has raised similar concerns about importing Chinese poultry and other food items for over a decade.
In 2007, she urged the U.S. trade representative to keep a watchful eye on the safety of Chinese food imports.
“There is significant evidence that China is failing to meet international food safety standards, from deceptive labeling and intentional contamination of products to unsanitary conditions,” DeLauro said at the time. “The Chinese need to be aware that their regulations need to be strengthened because trade should not trump public health.”
DeLauro served as chairwoman of the Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee in 2007 and remains a senior Democrat on the panel today.