Fowl Play

April 09, 1994

Consumers can recognize the difference between frozen food and fresh food, despite efforts by the Department of Agriculture to confuse the issue for the benefit of Arkansas interests that helped Hillary Clinton hit the commodities futures jackpot.

USDA upholds a curious legal fiction that frozen chicken may wear the "fresh" label in stores. Despite pledging to review the deceptive policy, the department is still dragging its heels.

The USDA has also joined the frozen-fowl flock in a lawsuit to overturn a California law that bars poultry chilled below 26 degrees from being sold as "fresh." Secretary Mike Espy, closely connected to Mississippi poultry producers, is the point man.

Chefs note the difference in taste, texture and juiciness of fresh versus frozen chicken. The former head of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service says the "fresh" label for frozen poultry is fraud. It's past time to thaw the White House freeze on changing this deceptive standard.

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