By Anna Ghosh
Thanks to Michael Pollan’s new book, there’s a lot of buzz right now about Americans’ meals being outsourced, but a connected and equally troubling trend – with even riskier food safety implications – is that Americans’ food is increasingly being imported from countries with abominable track records for food safety. And the country on the top of the list is China.
This week, Food & Water Watch Assistant Director Patty Lovera testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats to discuss China as the leading producer of many foods Americans eat: apples, tomatoes, peaches, potatoes, garlic, seafood, processed food and food ingredients like xylitol and vitamin C.
Headlines about risky food from China have become all too common – melamine in milk, a chicken for beef swap, toxic juice, exploding watermelons (really, you can’t make this stuff up). Even our pets are threatened. Since 2007, chicken jerky treats imported from China are suspected to have caused more than 600 cases of canine illness and deaths to date.me
In her testimony, Patty explains how combining trade policy with a food safety regulatory system that’s not up to the job of dealing with the rising tide of imports is a recipe for disaster. She warns about the risks involved when cash-strapped agencies turn to third party certifiers (doubly outsourced), and how consumers’ only tool to be able to make informed decisions about where their food comes from – Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) – needs to be improved and expanded.
- Watch Patty’s testimony here (beginning at 00:55:00): http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-hearing-threat-china%E2%80%99s-unsafe-consumables
- Read Patty’s testimony (complete with charts and graphs) here: http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/china_house_testimony_may_2013.pdf
- Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute also testified, which you can read more about here: http://www.cornucopia.org/2013/05/not-good-enough-for-pet-food/#more-8370
- Want more background about food imports from China? Read the report A Decade of Dangerous Food Imports from China