WASHINGTON, D.C. (WPVI) -- In a bid to sell more American beef in China, the U.S. Commerce department last year agreed to allow imports of cooked chicken grown in China into the country.
Rules for those imports are supposed to be finalized by mid-July, and the U.S. should be cleared to export beef by then.
But some in Congress are pushing to stop the chicken.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, chair of the Congressional Food Safety Caucus, has written to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him to block the shipments until Americans have a way of knowing the Chinese chicken is safe.
The reason, says DeLauro, is clear - China's scandal-plagued food system.
DeLauro notes, "A recent report by China's Food and Drug Administration revealed that the agency found more than 500,000 occurrences of illegal behavior and food safety violations in the first three quarters of 2016."
She says even the agency's former chief says China's food system has 'deep-seated' problems.
Her letter cites other safety problems in China which could endanger the chicken.
In particular, she points to heavy metals like lead and cadmium, which have gotten into the soil from coal-mining, and could contaminate chicken feed.
Those metals are known to accumulate in chicken tissue.
Cattlemen in the U.S. are anxious to get to the big, and still growing Chinese appetite for beef.
American producers have been locked out of the $2.5 billion market since a case of mad cow disease cropped up in the U.S. in 2003.
Many people believe China's refusal to lift its beef ban was a negotiating tactic, a tit for tat aimed at allowing Chinese chicken imports into the United States.
Lawmakers make push to stop Chinese chicken imports
Food Safety Caucus notes China's FDA posted 500,000 violations in 9 months