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News Link • Food

Playing Chicken With Consumers

• Jonathan Turley
With the continuing stories of contaminated or mislabeled food coming from China, many people have actively sought to avoid Chinese products. The United States Department of Agriculture (long the enemy of the consumer and friend of agribusiness) has come up with a solution: Chinese chicken imports will be sold without telling people that they are from China. In an apparent effort to bring our standards to Chinese levels, the Administration is also planning to hand over key inspection posts to industry.

The U.S. had been fighting with China for banning our beef in 2003. We banned chicken from China during an avian flu outbreak, but China got a favorable ruling from the World Trade Organization forcing us to open our borders.

We therefore have to allow Chinese chicken to be sold here. However, we seem to have gone even further in allowing China to hide its country-of-origin. Here is how it works. The Chinese chickens are raised in the U.S. and Canada and then “processed” in China. By using this loophole, soup companies, restaurants, and other companies can hide the fact that the chicken comes from one of the most notorious sources of food in the world.

 

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Henry Bowman
Entered on:

As libertarians, shouldn't we applaud food safety being enforced by the free market instead of by governments? According to libertarian philosophy, consumers should learn to independently make more informed food choices (for example, if it doesn't say where it's from, don't buy that one), and some free-market food-safety organization (such as the UL, NFPA, Consumer's Union) will rise up and fill the niche.


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