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May 10th, 2013

Outsourced, Imported Food is a Recipe for Disaster

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.

2 Comments on Outsourced, Imported Food is a Recipe for Disaster

  1. John Simms says:

    I won’t buy any foodstuffs for myself or my pets that originate from China.

  2. Jean Alford says:

    I do not believe the US food system is safe because our imports are so poorly regulated. I’m fine with food coming from countries with better regulation like Europe but China is just plain scary. I’m also a little concerned about food coming from Texas because apparently they are not subjecting themselves to federal laws they disagree with. I am so glad I’m a vegetarian because I see enormous safety issues in the meat & fish industries.

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