U.S. to Again Allow Imports of Processed Poultry from China
The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service notified China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine Aug. 30 that it can begin certifying a list of Chinese poultry processing establishments as meeting FSIS requirements. These certified establishments may then begin exporting processed (heat treated/cooked) poultry products to the U.S. provided they are produced from poultry slaughtered under FSIS inspection in the U.S. or in a country eligible to export slaughtered poultry to the U.S. The FSIS notes that it is currently auditing China’s slaughter inspection system and that no chickens raised or slaughtered in China can be shipped to the U.S. at this time.
The FSIS utilizes a three-part system for both establishing initial equivalence and ensuring the ongoing equivalence of countries that export regulated products to the United States. A foreign country’s inspection system must ensure that establishments preparing poultry products for import into the U.S. comply with requirements equivalent to those in the Poultry Products Inspection Act and in FSIS regulations. Once a country’s inspection system is granted equivalence, the FSIS conducts periodic verification reviews and audits of exporting establishments. In addition, products undergo re-inspection at U.S. ports of entry to check for proper certification, labeling, transportation damage and general condition. Selected shipments are subject to additional re-inspection procedures, including examinations for product defects and laboratory analyses to detect harmful chemical residues or pathogen testing appropriate for the products. The FSIS performs increased import re-inspection activities for countries that are beginning to export product to the U.S.
With respect to China, the FSIS conducted an on-site verification audit in March that concluded that all previously identified concerns have been adequately addressed and that China’s food safety system governing poultry processing remains equivalent to that of the U.S., with the ability to produce products that are safe, wholesome, unadulterated and properly labeled. The following measures will be taken to ensure that China maintains this equivalence: (1) China must use a specific and standardized method to provide the U.S. with detailed information on all aspects of its food safety systems, (2) chicken products processed in China are subject to increased inspection upon entry into the U.S., (3) the FSIS will audit China’s poultry processing system annually, and (4) if the FSIS finds China to be exporting product that does not meet U.S. food safety standards, China will no longer be eligible for export to the U.S.