Brendan O’Connor of Gizmodo reports today that President Donald Trump intends to intensify enforcement of food safety regulations as a cudgel in international trade negotiations, according to leaked recordings of a what appears to be a phone conversation between Trump and Wilbur Ross, his nominee for Commerce Secretary. At one point in the conversation, Trump and Ross discuss the possibility of using safety regulations on food imports as a mechanism to pressure foreign companies or governments.
TRUMP: If you look at Japan, what they do with food—they say it’s not clean enough, and you have to send it back, and by the time it comes back it’s all gone.
ROSS: Exactly. And we oughta let them know we’re gonna start playing the same game.
TRUMP: Well I think you let them know that we’re going to do that. Without saying that, you say, “We’re gonna inspect you so closely,” bomp bomp.
ROSS: Yeah. That’s the thing—not to say that it’s punitive, but in the interest of American safety.
Setting aside for a moment how wise it is to use food safety as a trade weapon, it does raise the interesting concept that the President might well be interested in safe food?