China Food Quality Questioned

I mentioned briefly that I would not trust anything coming out of China at this point in time, the Post runs with it this morning.

China Food Fears Go From Pets To People – washingtonpost.com

The scandal, which unfolded three years ago after hundreds of babies fell ill in an eastern Chinese province, became the defining symbol of a broad problem in China’s economy. Quality control and product-safety regulation are so poor in this country that people cannot trust the goods on store shelves.

China has been especially poor at meeting international standards. The United States subjects only a small fraction of its food imports to close inspection, but each month rejects about 200 shipments from China, mostly because of concerns about pesticides and antibiotics and about misleading labeling. In February, border inspectors for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration blocked peas tainted by pesticides, dried white plums containing banned additives, pepper contaminated with salmonella and frozen crawfish that were filthy.

China’s development in many areas has been remarkably rapid, but one has to remember that basic infrastructure such as food safety standards, environmental controls, etc. follow along a little later. China being what it is, the U.S government really needs to be more careful and comprehensive with its food testing and safety programs. There’s no sense in blaming China for this, the Chinese government can’t possibly control all this activity. It takes both buyer beware, and seller beware to ensure safety. The U.S should take the European Union’s approach on this issue.

3 comments for “China Food Quality Questioned

  1. April 25, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    I agree with you that there is no sense in blaming China for U.S. short sightedness.
    If Americans need someone to blame, then I suggest a look in the mirror.

    That said, as a small farmer I must disagree with your assertion that the US need a lesson from the EU.
    The EU is a disaster.

    I’m of the opinion that past and current regulations and legislation has made food not just less safe, but positively dangerous.
    Any more power to the USDA or the FDA could be catastrophic.

    For the past 65 years or so, legislation and over regulation has fostered the fracture, industrialization and centralization of the US food supply, with all of the attending evils.
    Legislation has helped to empower Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Con Agra, Tyson, Monsanto and et. al. , and has made them the darlings of Capital Hill.

    I think America would be better served to heed the admonitions of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

    Any criticism of the WTO and global economics has been dismissed as backwards protectionism.
    Most Americans are disconnected to their food and haven’t a clue where it comes from.

    NAFTA and other trade fiascos have encouraged the importation of cheap food from the third world, and I find it instructive, that people will readily buy and consume food grown in a country that they would not dream to drink the water if they were there on vacation.

    Americans need to take more responsibility for the nation’s food crisis and begin to help themselves out of the grave they have been digging.

    I produce most of my own food and realize that that is not practical for most people.

    However many people can plant a small garden or at least a tomato plant. The Consumer can demand Country Of Origin labels everywhere, so as to make informed choices and buy local when ever possible.

    A return to America’s original agrarianism and self reliance will not only keep us as a People safer (not just food), but the entire World will be a safer place.

  2. April 25, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks for the long comment, a lot of what you say makes sense. I am curious, though, why is the EU a disaster? They have a pretty comprehensive testing program, or at least are trying to set one up. Sometimes, they go too far, and test for toxics at extremely low levels. I’ve worked on dioxin/PCB testing for EU compliance at sub-ppt levels.

    It would be great to get a small farmer’s perspective on the EU program 🙂

  3. April 25, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    I’ll keep my post short & brief this time.

    Food Safety is more than about testing.

    That’s like saying a healthy person is their lipid profile or EKG.

    It would take me hours to go through and list EU general principles of food law and agriculture, and the ways in which they would destroy the last vestige of small family farms.

    Small family farms are in my opinion the only last best hope this country has for safe food.

    Compared to the rest of the World, the US has a different view of property rights – civil rights in general.

    Many of the mandates of the EU would violate those basic Rights.

    I’m thinking the 1st, 4th & 5th Amendments in particular.

    The recent outcry from farmers regarding the USDA National Animal Identification System is just the tip of a very deep iceberg.

    In fact I would say that NAIS will be the Titanic of the USDA, but that is a whole other story.

    Here’s a quick brief 3 item list of everyday practices that come to mind.

    This is just for animals, – the fruits & vegetables would be a very long list indeed.

    At present, as a Citizen of the United States and as resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,

    I have direct control over my animals.
    That means all veterinary management care & decisions, all feed and breeding decisions.

    I am free to sell you a lamb, pig, cow, chicken, duck…whatever…. direct, and if you so choose, you may slaughter that lamb in my front yard.

    I am free to buy and sell raw milk.
    This is not true for all of the US and certainly not an EU practice.

    I’m glad the word is finally get out about China, but the problem is bigger than China.

    When is somebody going to do a story about the beef that has been imported into the US from South America?

    All the BSE feed that could not be sold in Europe was sold to South America.

    Last I heard a few years ago, Costa Rica had bought tons of it.
    Costa Rican beef has imported into the US and ended up in fast food “restaurants”.
    It’s not about “testing” it’s more about greed.

    Good Luck to you