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Ban on Chinese Chicken Advances
posted by admin on 05/05/06

Lawmakers voted to block chicken processed in China from entering the United States.

WASHINGTON -- Spurred by concerns about bird flu, lawmakers voted Wednesday to block chicken processed in China from entering the United States.

The prohibition is part of a $94 billion spending bill for food and agriculture programs that cleared a House subcommittee and now goes to the full Appropriations Committee.

The Bush administration had said last month that it would allow poultry processed in China, so long as it comes from birds raised and slaughtered in the United States. Agriculture Department officials said the meat would be fully cooked and perfectly safe.

But Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut said there's no way to guarantee the safety of chicken cooked and packaged in China, where thousands of birds and several people have died from bird flu.

DeLauro, the agriculture spending subcommittee's senior Democrat, mentioned a recent recall in Tennesee of chicken breast fillets, sold as fully cooked, that may have been undercooked.

"If undercooking can occur at a U.S. plant, where there are daily inspections, think of how easy it will be for undercooking or other problems to occur in a Chinese plant, which is inspected by U.S. inspectors only once per year," DeLauro said.

"The public health risk increases exponentially when a product from China is undercooked, because the threat of avian flu is so high in that country," she said.
The panel approved DeLauro's amendment blocking processed chicken from China on a voice vote.

The spending bill would provide $80 million to protect against bird flu, about $33 million less than what President Bush requested.

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