China/Imports: Is my chicken coming from China, or other countries?

More than 99% of the chicken sold in the United States comes from chickens hatched, raised and processed in the United States. None currently come from China.  Less than 1% of the chicken we consume is imported from Canada and Chile.

I heard that that the U.S. may soon begin importing cooked chicken from China. Is that true?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for ensuring that America’s supply of meat, poultry, processed egg products are safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged. Part of achieving this mission includes ensuring countries that export these products to the United States have food safety systems in place that are equivalent to our domestic system.

If a country requests to export an FSIS-regulated product to the United States, FSIS is obligated to undergo a thorough process to determine whether or not that country’s food safety system is equivalent to ours to ensure that American consumers would receive food that is safe to eat. China has requested such a review in order to export poultry products. In response, over the past several years FSIS has reviewed China’s poultry food safety system in two parts: one system for processing poultry, and one system for slaughtering poultry.  In August 2013, FSIS announced that based on its review of China’s system for processed poultry, China is eligible to export processed, fully-cooked chicken from the United States and other approved source countries (like Canada or Chile,) to the U.S.  On March 4, 2016, FSIS published a follow-up audit report on a follow-up audit of China’s processing system that found China’s processing system continues to be equivalent.  This does not pertain to chickens that were raised in China. 

However, there have been no shipments made to date to the U.S. of any chicken that has been processed in China. Because of the economies of scale achieved by the U.S. chicken industry, it is difficult for any country to compete domestically in the United States.

For Frequently Asked Questions on USDA’s Equivalence of China’s Poultry Processing and Slaughter Inspection Systems, please click here.