By Barbara Olejnik
Poultry Times Staff
WASHINGTON — Representatives of China’s agricultural ministry and animal quarantine and inspection service will visit U.S. poultry facilities in June to learn how producers fight avian influenza.
The visit is the first of two that may result in China ending a ban on U.S. poultry imports to that country.
The second scheduled visit is set for September.
China blocked all U.S. poultry and poultry related products shipped from the United States in January 2015 following the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in the U.S.
The ban also applied to poultry breeding stock, which includes live chicks and hatching eggs. The ban also impacted China’s white broiler meat production since that counties relies on the U.S. for grandparent breeding stock for its domestic production.
That 2015 HPAI outbreak in the U.S. resulted in more than 48 million birds in 223 separate outbreaks across the country. Revenue for the poultry industry dropped $400 million, or 14 percent, in the first half of 2015 as compared to the previous year.
However, only a few HPAI cases have been detected in U.S. chicken since last year.
China’s ban following the 2015 outbreaks cut off a major market for U.S. chicken, particularly for chicken feet.
In 2014, U.S. poultry exports to China totaled $315.4 million, including $94.6 million worth of chicken feet.
Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, said, “We’re hoping that after the September visit that they lift the ban entirely.”
A separate arrangement with China allows that country to export processed, cooked chicken from the U.S. and other approved source countries, to the U.S.
If a country requests to export a U.S. Food Safety & Inspection Service-regulated product to the U.S. FSIS must conduct a thorough process to determine whether that country’s food safety system is equivalent to the U.S. system. FSIS has reviewed China’s poultry food safety system in two parts: one system or processing poultry and one system for slaughtering poultry.
On August 2013 and in a March 2016 follow-up report, FSIS found China’s processing system to be equivalent.
At the same time, FSIS completed an audit showing that China’s poultry slaughter system now meets the criteria for an equivalence determination.
However, there are still additional steps that FSIS must take to determine whether China is eligible to export poultry that was slaughtered in China to the U.S.
The National Turkey Federation said the notice regarding the importation of cooked chicken from China “is an essential first step in the process of restoring normal exports of U.S. turkey and all poultry to China.”
In 2013, the NTF noted, the U.S. exported more than $70 million work of turkey meat to China, but that trade has now been suspended for more than two years.
China just recently agreed to resume U.S. beef imports, after blocking shipments since 2003.
Beef exports to China must meet specified requirements under the USDA Export Verification Program.
Included in the requirements are that:
- Beef and beef products must come from cattle born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S., cattle that were imported from Canada or Mexico and subsequently raised and slaughtered in the U.S, or cattle that were imported from Canada or Mexico for direct slaughter.
- Beef and beef products must come from cattle less than 30 months of age.