How Safe Are Imported Foods?

  1. adulterants mentioned include melaine and diethylene glycol.
    then a rice protein from china was found to be similarly affected. next, hogs meant for human food consumption were found to have been fed with melamine-tainted fodder. then chickens. then fish. american consumers were told that these hogs and chickens and fish were safe to eat. in an attempt to reassure the public, an fda assistant administrator claimed that "a 132-pound person would have to eat 800 pounds of pork a day" to suffer health effects from the melamine traces in the animals. this is true, assuming that the 132-pound person hasn't already been eating melamine-tainted pork for some years.
    and these analyses were not done very often by the overstretched fda, which is responsible for the safety of not only imported pharmaceuticals but of all imported foods other than meat, poultry and fish. as a result, 99 percent of such imports are simply waved through without lab testing.
    whether the bush administration is up to these challenges remains to be seen. a recent washington post article reports that the administration has opposed new safety rules for foreign foods, and that it views china more as a market for american products than as the source of potentially contaminated products later found in the united states. add to that conservatives' general anti-regulation beliefs and their faith in unregulated markets, and one begins to have some doubts about reform. but the resumption of high-level trade talks with china this week gives the administration a good opportunity to dispel them by imposing stricter regulations on imports from china.

    the fda needs some help to fulfill its statutory obligation to assure a safe food supply. (as does the usda for meat safety inspection.)