WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has given China the green light to export processed, cooked chicken to the United States.
The agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said it "has determined that China’s poultry processing inspection system is equivalent to that of the United States, and cooked chicken imported from China would be processed under equivalent conditions as in the United States."
Although China is eligible to export chicken, the food must be fully cooked before it is exported and chickens that are raised or slaughtered in China are ineligible for export to this country even if such chickens have been processed. Also, the United States is not importing raw chicken from China.
Should China begin exporting processed chicken to the U.S., "all food safety steps will be taken as if the products were processed in the United States," FSIS stated.
In 2006, FSIS added China to the list of countries eligible to export processed poultry to the U.S. But Congress banned the use of funds to import processed poultry from China.
FSIS said it will monitor China's poultry processing system every year as part of its measures to ensure the chicken meets food-safety standards.
Processed chicken from China cannot be included in the National School Lunch Program due to restrictions on where such food can be produced, raised and processed, FSIS explained.