By Julian Hattem - 11/11/13 11:24 AM EST
Federal food safety regulators are denying Democrats’ claims that they are preparing to let raw chicken parts be imported from China.
The the Food Safety and Inspection Service in a statement late Sunday said it “has not found China's poultry slaughter system to be equivalent and therefore poultry slaughtered in China is not allowed to be imported to the United States.”
“The U.S. food supply is among the safest in the world, and the Food Safety Inspection Service is dedicated to maintaining that status," continued the service, which is housed in the Department of Agriculture.
The announcement came after Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) criticized the Obama administration for “getting ready” to allow Chinese chickens to be sold in American stores.
Schumer said on Sunday that a USDA report to Congress indicated that imports could happen “within a year.”
“There are so many disturbing incidents about foods that comes from China,” he said at an event in New York City. “China has a terrible record when it comes to food safety, and because of cutbacks, our U.S. Department of Agriculture does not do the inspections that are needed and necessary.”
The USDA is currently conducting an audit of China’s poultry slaughter system. That report has not yet been finalized. When it is, the food safety agency said that China would be required to fix any flaws in its food safety regime.
In late August, the Agriculture Department allowed four Chinese poultry processors to ship some cooked meat to the U.S. The department said that only birds raised in the U.S. and Canada and then sent to China could be imported into the country.
The food safety agency is legally required to review all requests from foreign countries, it said.