Tainted food imports from China

Our system of food safety puts business “above the public welfare” asserts the chair of a National Academies committee that recommended major changes in the U.S. food safety system.

The executive branch has repeatedly rebuffed proposals by agency scientists to impose even modest new safety rules for foreign foods.

“This nation has – and has had for decades – a pressing need for a wholly dedicated food safety agency, one that is independent and not concerned with other matters to bring together and extend the bits of food safety activities now scattered over more than a dozen agencies.”

Four organizations comprise the National Academies:
the National Academy of Sciences,
the National Academy of Engineering,
the Institute of Medicine and
the National Research Council.

In the first four months of 2007, FDA inspectors – who are able to check out less than 1 percent of regulated imports – refused 298 food shipments from China.

Juices and fruits rejected as “filthy.”

Prunes tinted with chemical dyes not approved for human consumption.

Frozen breaded shrimp preserved with nitrofuran, an antibacterial that can cause cancer.

Swordfish rejected as “poisonous.”

Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical.

Frozen catfish laden with banned antibiotics.

Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria.

Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.

These were among the 107 food imports from China the Food and Drug Administration detained at U.S. ports just last month… along with more than 1,000 shipments of tainted Chinese dietary supplements, toxic Chinese cosmetics and counterfeit Chinese medicines.

Kowtowing to China
China is subject to more inspections because of its poor record… [but] For years, U.S. inspection records show, China has flooded the United States with foods unfit for human consumption. And for years, FDA inspectors have simply returned to Chinese importers the small portion of those products they caught – many of which turned up at U.S. borders again, making a second or third attempt at entry.

Under Agriculture Department rules, countries cannot export meat and poultry products to the United States unless the USDA certifies that the slaughterhouses and processing plants have food-safety systems equivalent to those here.

Much to its frustration, China is not certified to sell any meat to the United States because it has not met that requirement.

But that has not stopped Chinese meat exporters.

“So many U.S. companies are directly or indirectly involved in China now… the United States finds itself “kowtowing to China” …even as that country keeps sending American consumers adulterated and mislabeled foods. Article at Washington Post

Are we also kowtowing to companies?
Government may bend to business, but so do we.

Whether current government ideology favors a hands-off policy or is poorly funded, there are brands to blame and there are sufficient funds to improve food quality and safety.

  • Amount spent annually by Kellogg’s to promote Frosted Flakes: $40 million
  • Amount spent annually by the dairy industry on “milk mustache” ads: $190 million
  • Amount spent annually by McDonald’s advertising its products: $800 million