It’s “All Hallows’ Eve” — the night to watch scary movies and greet witches and goblins at your front door.
But there’s something really frightening going on right now. Something that makes Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller The Birds sound like a children’s story.
And it’s not on your TV, but it could be right in your kitchen.
It all has to do with the H7N9 “bird flu” that I told you about just a couple of months ago. That epidemic has now hit close to 1,600 people. And it’s killed over 40 percent of those infected.
They’re all in China — for now. But that could change at the drop of a hat.
Because if there’s anything we don‘t need in the U.S., it’s chicken coming out China.
Yet, that’s exactly what’s headed to America — and the only way to steer clear of it is to know exactly where the chicken you eat is coming from.
Playing chicken with a deadly virus
This year’s H7N9 outbreak is the worst one China has seen in quite a while.
To make the whole scenario even more frightening, this flu has already made a giant leap, infecting a “handful” of people who didn’t catch it from chickens… but from other people.
That “morphing” of this virus is what could turn it into a pandemic — making it a killer the likes of which we haven’t seen in nearly a century.
Now, traveling to China carries some risks — and the CDC has warned visitors to that country not to “touch birds, alive or dead” or eat poultry if it’s not “fully cooked.”
But it’s not people traveling to China and bringing the H7N9 flu virus back with them that you have to worry about. After all, how many of us actually know anyone who’s ever been to China?
No, your real concern should be the chickens that are flocking back to the States from the Far East.
I know, it sounds like some kind of a joke — but as the H7N9 flu has started gaining strength and infecting more people, it no longer sounds so funny.
You see, as part of a deal having to do with exporting American beef to China, chickens are raised and slaughtered in the U.S. and then shipped off to China — right into the epicenter of this frightening flu. That’s where they are processed and cooked, and then they’re sent back.
It’s simply too unbelievable to comprehend.
To top it off, the so-called safety of this entire operation depends on several things that we have no control over.
For instance, just how clean are the facilities where our traveling chickens are being processed? That’s impossible to say, but from what we already know, it doesn’t sound too good.
Last year, the USDA picked four (out of who knows how many) Chinese poultry processors to conduct a “review” of their facilities. Here’s some of what those inspectors found:
- In one facility, a “powdery residue” was observed on the surfaces of “several structures” in a processing room.
- In another, the entire “step in the process” when cooked chickens are placed on trays, was not included in any “hazard analysis” leading USDA inspectors to say that could “compromise the safety of the products.”
- In yet another, USDA officials noted “flaking paint and corrosion” on storage boxes lining the wall where “cooked product is sliced.” They also observed door frames that were falling apart in “production areas,” and some had “accumulated organic residue” on them.
Despite those findings, however, the USDA gave these facilities a “clean audit report.”
And if you think China, the world’s second largest poultry producer (after the U.S.), is going to be happy just cooking our chickens and sending them back, it’s not. Not by a long shot.
That’s why another plan, hidden in a proposed rule put out last year, will allow China to export chickens, ducks, and turkey hatched and bred in that country to the U.S.
Talk about going on a “wing and a prayer”!
And get this — we don’t know where these chickens are going to be sold or even what brand name they’ll be sold under (the first ones actually arrived in the U.S. this summer)!
You might think that accidentally getting some Chinese chicken in your grocery cart is no big deal if you and your family have gotten the flu shot this year, but that won’t give you any protection. There is no vaccine for this killer.
It’s obvious we’re playing chicken with a deadly virus that, once unleashed in the U.S., could spread like wildfire. Staying safe may all boil down to what precautions we take right now.
And the only way to protect ourselves and our families is to do this: Stay far away from any chicken that doesn’t clearly state it’s both raised and processed in the U.S.
That could limit your choices to U.S. organic-certified farms (which is a better idea in any event).
“Is a dangerous bird flu on the horizon?” Amy Norton, October 19, 2017, HealthDay, consumer.healthday.com