Have you heard the big news? The U.S. Federal Department of Agriculture has approved four Chinese poultry processors to begin shipping meat to the U.S.
I can’t wait! I love Chinese chicken. Sometimes it comes with three nuts, sometimes it’s both sweet and sour, and often it is part of a happy family.* Still, the USDA ruling has ruffled some people’s feathers, possibly because China has had some quality control issues with its food. For instance, Chinese police have broken up one criminal enterprise accused of pawning off rat and fox meat as lamb, and another of a plot to sell 46-year-old chicken feet treated with bleach. Personally, I prefer to enjoy my 46-year-old chicken feet unbleached, but there’s no accounting for taste.
Still, I think this is a good idea. The Chinese are clearly superior to the U.S. when it comes to chicken. After all, General Tso outranks Colonel Sanders.
And, anyway, The Huffington Post reports that the USDA has avoided the quality control problems by restricting the chicken exports to “cooked meat from birds raised in the U.S.”
Wait…what? Let me get this straight. The chickens are born here. Raised here. Educated here. Then they’re shipped all the way to China to be cooked, just so they can be sent back here? That’s a long way to go for Chinese take-out.
I have a few questions about this:
- How the hell does that make any sense?
- Why can’t they just send the birds to the local Chinese restaurant to be cooked?
- While in transit, will the chickens be able to range freely on the boat?
- At what point in this process would the bleach be added?
- If the chickens lay eggs while in Communist China, do they hatch into little red hens?
What’s got some people concerned about chicken coming from China is that they will be arriving incognito, without any point-of-origin labeling. As Bloomberg correspondent Adam Minter noted, “Consumers will have no way to tell if those chicken nuggets in the supermarket freezer were processed in the U.S. or in China.”
Of course they will. They just have to look for the little fold-up containers with the metal handles that you have to tear out before you reheat the food in the microwave. Speaking of which, my Chinese chicken already has a point-of-origin labeling issue: I have no way of knowing if the leftover chicken with broccoli in my refrigerator originated last week or the week before.
Okay, enough with the Chinese menu jokes. As Mr. Minter points out, our chickens will most likely be returned to us frozen and nuggetized, which will make it all the easier to mix in the rat and fox meat.
In Other International Chicken News…
The Telegraph reports that a chicken in England tore a $500 diamond earring off its owner’s ear and swallowed it. And that’s not even the bizarre part of the story:
- The chicken was able to commit its capon crime only because its owner, one Claire Lennon (near left) apparently makes a habit of letting it sit on her shoulder, as if she’s sort of a demented pirate during a parrot shortage.
- The chicken is male, which I thought made it a rooster, but what do I know? It turns out that, in England at least, there are animals called cockerels, which no doubt makes life much easier for British comedians.
- The male chicken’s name is Sarah.
- After giving it laxatives did not help it pass the, um, stone, Ms. Lennon says that she will not resort to surgery to get the jewelry back because it might kill the chicken, who I suppose will otherwise be fine walking around with a diamond in its stomach (above right).
- The reason the owner won’t have Sarah operated on is that, if Sarah died from the diamondectomy, it would devastate her six year old daughter, who “dotes on the chicken.” Her daughter may, in fact, be a boy named Sue, but I’m just guessing based on the other information.
Evidently, Ms. Lennon is willing to wait 8-10 years for Sarah to die of natural causes before getting her earring back. But she recognizes that there is a danger in doing so. “We’re keeping a close eye on him to make sure he doesn’t get caught, carried
off and eaten by a fox or the diamond will be gone forever,” she said.
Of course, if Sarah does get eaten by a fox, there may be an upside: some lucky American consumer might find a diamond in their Chinese chicken nugget.
And, Finally, in Domestic Chicken News…
The New York Post reports that $50,000 has been donated to allow Operation Chicken Airlift to fly 1,200 formerly-egg-laying chickens from Northern California to upstate New York, where they can live out a cage-free retirement, presumably at an assisted laying facility.
When reached for comment upon landing in New York, one of the chickens, whose name was Irving, said, “Phew, I thought we were headed for China.”
See you soon.
*C3. Happy Family….$10.95 Jumbo shrimp, crabmeat, chicken breast, and beef with mixed vegetables in house special brown sauce