A provision included in the $ 1.1-trillion spending bill Congress passed last week and which is now headed to the president’s desk prevents poultry processed in China from being used in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program (Section 736 of Division A).
Four Chinese poultry-processing plants have been approved to export cooked chicken to the U.S. as long as the chicken was raised and slaughtered in the U.S., Canada or Chile.
The ban on including such products in federal meal programs was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and cosponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME). Both are members of the House Appropriations Committee and added the amendment to the Fiscal Year 2015 agriculture appropriations bill last spring.
Congressional leaders included the provision in the omnibus spending bill that funds the federal government through Sept. 30, 2015, the end of FY 2015.
“Banning Chinese chicken from school meals is a common-sense step to protect our kids,” DeLauro said in a statement. “China’s food safety record is atrocious, yet last year USDA deemed poultry processed in China to be as safe as poultry processed here. Children are among the most susceptible to foodborne illness. We cannot take unnecessary risks with their health.”
Nancy Huehnergarth told Food Safety News that she and Bettina Siegel, co-sponsors of a Change.org petition to keep poultry processed in China off U.S. plates, were relieved to see the provision carry over into the omnibus bill.
“We’re really happy,” Huehnergarth said. “It’s exactly what we were hoping for.”
In garnering nearly 329,000 signatures, the petition showed strong grassroots support for the ban. The team plans to declare victory once the president signs the bill, which he has indicated he plans to do.
China, on the other hand, is not so pleased because of provisions in the U.S. bill that “discriminate against Chinese companies, violate the principles of fair trade and send the wrong signal,” International Business Times reported. In addition to the poultry ban, the bill also restricts purchase of IT systems produced in China.
“China urges U.S. to take effective measures to correct the erroneous practice and create a favorable environment for the healthy development of Sino-US economic and trade relations,” stated Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Sun Jiwen.