The export of poultry from China to the United States is currently banned, but reports indicate officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are scheduled to inspect Chinese poultry processing plants in late January or early February in an apparent step toward lifting the ban.
Past food safety concerns, avian flu outbreaks, and the frequent turnover of Chinese officials involved in negotiations, are cited as reasons for the continued ban, according to DVM Newsmagazine. But politically, the planned inspections could relax tense trade relations between the countries embattled in negotiations for the past seven years. China is anxious to import poultry, as the United States is interested in reversing China’s 2003 ban on American beef. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, representing U.S. ranchers and beef producers, estimated last year the U.S. could be exporting $200 million of beef to China per year if the ban was lifted. However, it seems there won’t be one ban lifted without the other.

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Although banned from exporting chicken for human consumption in the United States, China is allowed to export chicken for pet food. Since 2007, the Food and Drug Administration has conducted extensive testing on chicken jerky treats consumers claim are harming pets. According to the agency, as of December 17, 2012, it has received 2,674 reports involving 3,243 dogs, including 501 deaths, and nine cats, including one death. Since the end of summer 2012, 201 more dogs have reportedly died in relation to the products.