Concerns Raised Over Poultry Shipping

By: Courtney Ann Jackson
By: Courtney Ann Jackson

Jackson, Mississippi Poultry pulls by the millions to Mississippi each year. However, some are worried it could now go into the wrong hands.

The USDA will now allow chicken slaughtered in the U.S. to be processed in China. No labeling will be required to identify those chicken products that will be shipped back to the U.S. Representative Tom Miles is calling foul on the idea of shipping chicken back and forth to China.

"When we have Mississippi workers, Mississippi farmers are handling our chickens, that are handling and processing our food, it's just a sense that we all feel safe with it because we know where the food is coming from," Miles feels.

Miles plans to introduce a truth-in-labeling bill next session. It would be similar to current law that requires origin labels for catfish.

"When you walk into the catfish restaurants, you see the sign that says this is Mississippi farm raised catfish," Miles explains. "That this is Mississippi processed and grown chickens."

He also looks at the labels as a way of protecting the booming industry that much of the Magnolia state relies on. His phone has already started ringing with questions.

"They're just concerned of the unknown," Miles says. "They're concerned of what happens if our factory workers leave our town and we don't have anyone left in our towns."

Mark Leggett, President of the Mississippi Poultry Association, says the state should be careful with stamping those labels.

"Our concern would be first some type of retaliation by other countries," Legget says. "That they would decide to not buy our chicken."

Leggett says the growth of the poultry industry is going to come from overseas. Mississippi currently sells chicken to 77 different countries. He also stresses that the chicken going to and from China will be a small percentage of the industry.

"It'll be processed chicken and it's not chicken you would see in a tray in the Kroger," he points out. "You wouldn't see a Mississippi chicken beside a Chinese chicken."

Representative Miles is concerned that this could be the start to a larger move of the poultry industry to China. He is hoping Mississippi can lead by example and pass the labeling bill next session.

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