Joanna and I have been debating whether this blog is becoming too fixated on food safety issues. Comments & opinions welcome. But after a recent commenter noted that this was the first place they’d read some of these stories, I just have to share this one, from the Global Times, covering the latest Chinese food contamination issue:
From the end of January to the beginning of February, about 3.5 tons of cowpea from Hainan Province was found tainted with Isocarbophos, a highly poisonous pesticide, in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province. Soon other provinces, too, reported consignments of toxic cowpeas from Hainan.
Actually, Wuhan has been slow on reporting this to the press. Wuhan has found and destroyed a large amount of tainted cowpeas from January 25 to February 5. Wuhan told Hainan to test their cowpeas on February 6 and, from that day, placed a three-month ban on cowpeas from Hainan. But until February 22 Wuhan did not notify the press what it had found and done.
Keep in mind, most of the coming food safety laws don’t apply to foreign countries. Already, we don’t have any meaningful safety controls on imported food, other than hoping the foreign officials hold their food to the same (dubious) standards we do. The US sure doesn’t test or inspect the vast majority of food arriving on our shores. So by cracking down even harder on American producers, we’re going to make it that much easier and cheaper for food imports to be competitive, especially when they come from countries with quality-control cultures that don’t exactly promote confidence (like China’s).
For more discussion of this dynamic, see this excellent analysis
from the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. It’s a bit dense at the beginning, but scroll down to “Increased Reliance on Food Imports”, in which the author lays out the absurd reality of the US government claiming it can equally enforce
rigorous food safety standards in foreign countries. It’s just not going to happen. And thus we end up with the double blow of less-competitive domestic food, and less safe imported food.