WEST CHESTER, PA — State Senators Andy Dinniman and Judy Schwank this week called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate reports that mushrooms labeled as “Product of the USA” are actually being grown from spawn and logs exported from China.
Dinniman, who serves on the Pennsylvania Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, and Schwank, who is the committee’s minority chair, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue asking the department to take a close look at the issue and reevaluate its labeling criteria.
“This situation is a clear example of an exploitation, or a ‘loophole’ in USDA labeling regulations. Pennsylvania mushroom farmers are a worldwide leader and we are home to the largest growers of specialty mushrooms, including shitake, in the United States,” they wrote in the January 30th letter.
According to recent news reports, Chinese companies are producing and exporting logs on which shiitake mushroom substrate is colonized. Those logs are then sold to mushroom farms across the country where the mushrooms are grown, picked and labeled as a product of the United States, even though the log and spawn originated in China.
Several mushroom growers in southern Chester County, have indicated that the practice is having a significant negative impact on their businesses.
Dinniman, who represents the region as part of Pennsylvania’s 19th Senatorial District and has long been known as a friend of farming, said he was concerned about the economic impact on local mushroom farms and related industries.
“Mushroom farms are both a significant part of our heritage and vital part of our economy in Chester County and Pennsylvania. We must continue to support a strong mushroom industry and while ensuring that consumers have a right to know where exactly their food is coming from,” Dinniman said.
Source: Andrew E. Dinniman (D), Pennsylvania State Senate, Senate District 19
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