Saturday, November 22, 2014

COOL Blowback

COOL (Country Of Origination Labeling) has been a hot issue for Canadian pork being exported to the US.  What about chicken?

Consumers, both in US and Canada (and I assume the rest of the world), would like to know where their food comes from.  With the 100 mile diet, eat local, buy local, and xenophobia, there is considerable pressure to buy from local producers.  That is why Canadian pork producers object to having "Raised in Canada" being put on Canadian pork that is sold in US grocery stores.  Everybody realizes that would be the kiss of death for sales.  The meat will rot on grocery store shelves, rejected by US consumers.  Alternatively, US grocery stores would have to sell Canadian pork at deep discount pricing, so low it would drive Canadian pork exporters into bankruptcy.

Is this issue isolated to just Canadian pork?

No.  It also applies to both Canadian and US chicken.

China has been frozen out of many industries, but they want greater access to US markets for all of their products, including food.

US Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") has their hands full with lousy chicken quality produced by US growers, US abattoirs, and US processors.  They don't need the added risk and headaches from sketchy Chinese poultry producers.  If Chinese dairy producers were willing to adulterate milk and baby formula with toxic melamine, or thousands of dead pigs purposefully dumped into Chinese rivers, what would you expect to occur if they could export Chinese chicken to the US?

But the Chinese kept pushing their agenda.

Finally a compromise was reached. IN Sept. 2013, Economy In Crisis Blog reported with outrage that Chinese abattoirs would be allowed to buy US grown chickens, eviscerate them, cook the meat, package it, and export it back to the US for sale in US grocery stores.  The package would say "Made In USA", likely due to COOL regulations.  That would allow retailers to hock this US chicken processed in China as 100% bona fide Star Spangled Banner home grown chicken to an unsuspecting public.

US farmers were likely in favor as it gave them additional production, and the Chinese buyers would likely pay a premium to get the necessary chicken supply.

As an interesting sidebar, FDA only has sufficient resources to inspect 2% of the imported chicken.  In the US, 60% of imported food comes from developing nations.  It isn't just snooty and fancy mustards from France that are being imported into the US.  Just like in Canada, when half century old canning factories in Canada are shut down so that we can buy pickles imported from India.

USDA inspectors regularly come to Canada to make sure Canadian foot exporters and CFIA are both doing their job of ensuring safe food is being exported to the US.

However, there are no plans for USDA inspectors to ensure the quality or safety of this chicken processed in China.

Should Canadians jump on this opportunity, saying "Americans are spooked by Chinese chicken.  We believe American would be much more comfortable with US chickens processed in Canada then re-exported back to the US.  Canadians will build the extra slaughter capacity that's necessary to meet this marketing and exporting opportunity.

Would Canadians be ready to unknowingly accept Canadian chicken that was processed in China, but the retail meat counter label on the packages hides that fact?

For all we know, CFIA may have already cut that deal with China and its exporting allies.

Where does this place Small Flockers within this boiling kettle of politics and chicken broth?

How is it cheaper and better to ship chicken all the way around the globe before humans eat it?

Obviously this well traveled chicken will only occur if someone is making more money doing things the crazy way.

Can we not find a solution that will allow the underutilized Small Flockers to spread their wings and fly?

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