According to a 2009 report, we imported 5.2 billion dollars worth of food products (about 4 billion pounds) from China (mostly fish and seafood, followed by juices and vegetables). That’s quite a bit… Compared to our entire food market, it’s just a drop in the bucket, but for a country with a “less than stellar” safety rating, that’s quite a bit.
Remember, this is a country that found 16,000 dead pigs and 1,000 dead ducks floating in a river and then claimed the water was still safe for human consumption. And they’re growing a lot of fish to sell to Americans… in that same water.
Here’s some more fun statistics for you:
Percent of China’s largest 500 cities that meet air quality requirements…..less than 1%
7 out of 10 of the world’s most polluted cities are in China.
70 percent of Chinese consumers are concerned about their food safety.
Now think about this—more than 70% of the apple juice on our shelves is grown in that air with that water. More than 75% of the delicious tilapia you buy is farmed in that water.
But wait, don’t we pay (with our tax dollars) an agency to monitor our food to make sure it’s safe. You bet! Do you want to know what your money pays for? Keep reading…
The FDA inspects food as it arrives in port and denies or destroys food if it’s not safe to eat. At least, that’s what we pay them to do. In all honesty, millions upon millions of shipments will pass through the FDA this year (more than 10 million actually). Truth be told, that makes it nearly impossible to check every single shipment. It would take about 300 FDA “agents” searching 100 shipments each, every single day, without a day off—like I said, impossible (and way too expensive).
So how many shipments does the FDA actually inspect? On average, it looks like they can effectively inspect about 2% (that’s about 200,000 of the 10,000,000 shipments). With that said, how many of the 200,000 inspected shipments are deemed unsafe? About 8-10% or 16,000 shipments.
So here’s the ugly truth… 10% of the 2% of the 100% of the food shipments arriving in the USA probably contain unsafe food—that’s 800,000 potentially unsafe shipments arriving at your dinner table.
There are regulatory processes, similar to the FDA, at the food production facilities in China, called the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA). According to The Food and Drug Import Safety Act “all imported food products must meet the same safety standards as domestically produced foods, international trade rules permit a foreign country to apply its own differing regulatory authorities and institutional systems in meeting such standards under an internationally recognized concept known as equivalence. “
You’ve got to love the term “equivalence.” The same gov’t that said a river with thousands of dead ducks and pigs floating in it was safe for human consumption is deciding that their food production facilities are safe enough for export. I feel so much better.
Now, all this to talk a minute about a meat processing in China. Right now, China farms aren’t “safe” enough to grow pork or poultry and export it to the USA, but they can do the processing for us. It may sound a bit silly to hatch a chicken in the United States, raise a chicken in the United States, slaughter a chicken in the United States, THEN ship the dead chicken to China for processing before shipping it back to the United States, but guess what… Yep, it’s happening.
What’s worse, is that the label will say “raised in the USA.” I’ll post about the economics of it all later (this one’s long enough), but keep in mind the “equivalence” we just talked about while I tell you some horror stories.
On July 23, 2014 5 people were arrested in China for processing spoiled meat.
China has had a recurring problem with their pork “glowing in the dark.”
After “mistakenly” applying a growth accelerator to watermelons, they exploded. Don’t worry though, “there was probably little health risk,” referring to the standard practice of applying growth hormones to fruit.
I could go on and on about the salmonella in pet food, steroids (or “lean meat powder”) in meats, toxic food containers widely used in China, melamine in infant formula, and hundreds of other fun additives to increase food production, but I’ll end it here.
I’ve told some of what I found. It’s up to you to decide what you’ll do with this information. My recommendation, shop at your local farmers markets, grow a garden with your kids, and give up the fast food (I suspect most of the imported meats will end up there).
Bottom line, I hope you will give America a chance and do your best to keep your hard earned money in your community first and country second.
As always, with anything I post, please feel free to comment or shoot me an e-mail if you have anything to add.