A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is trying to bar Chinese poultry from federal school lunch and other nutrition programs because of China's poor record on food safety.
On Wednesday, 12 Democratic representatives and two Republicans called for language in the 2014 agriculture appropriations bill to ensure that chicken processed in China is not included in the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Food and Summer Food Service programs.
"Children are our most vulnerable population with respect to food-borne illnesses and sensitivity to potentially dangerous chemicals," the lawmakers said in a letter to fellow members of
A deal is being viewed as a quid pro quo to open the massive Chinese market for U.S. beef, which has been banned since 2003 over fears of mad cow disease.
China has been rocked by numerous food scandals in recent years as it struggles to rein in corrupt business practices and bolster weak government enforcement.
U.S. legislators highlighted some of those incidents in Wednesday's letter:
"Consider the impact of China's weak enforcement of food safety laws and regulations; more than 300,000 Chinese children fell seriously ill, with some dying, from melamine-tainted milk powder; dangerously high levels of mercury found in Chinese baby formula; the sale of more than $1 million worth of rat and other small mammal meat passed off to consumers as lamb; and more than 16,000 diseased pig carcasses dumped in a river to rot.
Last year China Central Television revealed that a Chinese poultry supplier provided
Signing the letter were Reps.
Congress isn't expected to address the agriculture appropriations bill until January.