So no doubt, you have heard within the past few months, that Chinese food products for human and pet consumption and products have had some problems – that indeed, many of the food products have had substitute ingredients that are not exactly healthy…. The latest report being that “F.D.A. Curbs Sale of Five Seafoods Farmed in China” , “China shuts 180 food factories for using illegal chemicals” , “Tainted [Chinese-sourced] toothpaste more widespread” , “Chinese tire recall to start Monday” , ” Can tainted toys spark U.S.-China trade tiff?” , and of course, the original scandal that started things off, “FDA’s Ongoing Pet Food Investigation.”
A Taiwanese-American friend of mine questioned whether or not this was becoming an alarmist and possibly racist response for fears of China’s economic rise. To be honest, in any rapidly rising economy, I always have my doubts as to the quality (and in the case of food products, safety) of any food product or products in general. The short-term incentive is to skim on quality and purity to make a quick buck. But a country quickly learns that short-term shortcuts can cut into long-term profitability. Japan, Inc. is the clearest example that in post-World War II Japan, quality suffered, but they learned with a vengeance and now Japan = quality. China has quickly compressed its conversion to capitalism from the early 80s to the present…. and has not had the learning curve adopted over time for consumer protection and a general appreciation for quality and safety.
And surely with America’s increased dependence on imported goods, the United States needs to make more of a concerted effort to do a better job of educating exporters and hiring more inspectors.