Chinese poultry processors moved a step closer to gaining access to the US market after regulators in Washington concluded the food safety system overseeing the production of cooked poultry products in each country is now equivalent.

A 2010 audit carried out by the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service had found the systems were not equivalent and flagged up a number of issues that required Chinese authorities to take action. In a report issued on Friday (30 August), FSIS confirmed appropriate action has now been taken to address these concerns.

“FSIS reviewed and analysed the proffered corrective actions and accompanying references submitted by [China’s General Administration for Quality and Safety Inspection and Quarantine] to address findings FSIS identified in the 2010 audit as not being equivalent for each of the components of the poultry processing inspection system”, the regulator said.

“Based on the analysis of the corrective actions submitted by the People’s Republic of China

in response to the 2010 audit and the results of the 2013 audit, FSIS concludes that the [AQSIQ] has adequately addressed all previously identified concerns. Therefore, the PRC’s processed poultry inspection system meets the equivalence components for FSIS equivalence criteria.”

According to FSIS, China can now begin the process of certifying poultry processors who would be eligible to sell cooked poultry products in the US.

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“The PRC may proceed with certifying a list of establishments eligible to export processed (heat-treated/cooked) poultry products to the United States,” FSIS concluded.

However, the US regulator has not yet approved the import of poultry slaughtered in China. “FSIS is currently auditing the PRC’s slaughter inspection system. At this time, no chickens raised or slaughtered in the PRC can be shipped to the United States.”

For Chinese companies to ship finished products to the US, they would need to use poultry raised and slaughtered in the US or another country that already has equivalentcy status.