In the last year, thousands of people worldwide have fallen sick from eating unsafe food produced in China. Lax inspections abroad and at home mean that Chinese food producers have relied on dangerous additives, fertilizers and pesticides, leaving consumers to contend with the dangerous residue of China’s unregulated food production system.
And consumers are growing weary of the neverending scandals surrounding imports from China, from tainted dog food, to cookies laced with melamine, to the rising incidence of avian flu. A cursory look at newspaper headlines from any given month reveals the gravity and ubiquity of food safety problems in China:
Jakarta (The Jakarta Post) – Ten of 28 food products imported from China contain the toxic substance melamine, laboratory tests by the Indonesian Consumers’ Foundation and the University of Indonesia (UI) have revealed.
BEIJING (Reuters) – The impact of bird flu and the economic slowdown may have cut China’s poultry numbers by about a third or more in the last month, executives in the poultry feed industry said on Tuesday.
BEIJING (New York Times) – Seventy residents of southern China have been sickened after eating pig organs contaminated with a banned metabolism accelerator, state media reported Monday, in the latest in a series of lapses that have stirred international concern about China’s control over food safety.
BEIJING (New York Times) – Since September, inspectors have found melamine contamination in the milk products of 22 Chinese companies believed to have sickened almost 300,000 children and killed six. The scandal prompted a global recall of products made with Chinese dairy ingredients.
As the headlines pour in, so do the imports from China — in unprecedented numbers. In the last five years, the value of agricultural imports from China to the United States has more than doubled. And between 2007 and 2008, the value of consumer-oriented agricultural imports like nuts, fruit juices and fresh vegetables increased more than 20 percent, from $2,000,000,000 to $2,500,000,000. Seafood imports stand at similar numbers. China currently produces more than a third of the world’s fruits and vegetables and more than half of the world’s pork. But China’s massive agricultural production and export of cheap food products comes at a price to food safety — and U.S. regulators are not up to the job of protecting consumers.
Read the fact sheet to learn more.