USDA may allow China to import chickens

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to allow China, where 14 people have died of bird flu since 2003, to sell chicken to the United States.
calendar icon 11 February 2007
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The agency is drafting a rule that would permit China to export cooked poultry to Americans, even though public health officials have been warning for several years about a potential avian influenza pandemic.

Food safety watchdog groups are alarmed, but U.S. poultry producers, who would be facing new competition, are generally keeping mum. Some believe that the proposed rule could be a bargaining chip to get the Chinese to drop a ban on U.S. beef imports that they imposed after a case of mad-cow disease in 2003.

The World Health Organization has said that chicken and other poultry are safe to eat when cooked at the proper temperatures. USDA spokesman Steven Cohen said that since the exported chicken would be cooked, there'd be no risk to public health.

"It does appear at this time there would be no objections" from USDA's Animal and Plant Health Services, he said.

Source: McClatchy Newspapers
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