In the age of globalization, food imports from China to the US are big business and getting bigger. In 2006, they represented $64 billion – a 33 percent increase over 2003.  As China imports grow, so does my business – A bad trend?  It certainly is for my clients.

The same day that it was announced that the seasoning in “veggie booty,” a product parents around the country fed their small kids, was tainted with Salmonella Wandsworth that was imported from China, the China Foreign Ministry announced in the China Daily:

“China’s food safety problems are partly a result of misunderstandings brought about by exaggerations in media reports. One aspect of this is a misunderstanding which in large part is a result of media exaggeration,” Qin Gang said. “That creates a psychology of fear. Truly problematic products are “extremely few,” he said.

Tell that to the parents of 57 US kids suffering from a rare strain of Salmonella? I found a few interesting articles on the topic that I thought I would share one from WorldNetDaily from May, from NPR of a few days ago and from Voice of America of yesterday.

HOMELAND INSECURITY – Is China trying to poison Americans and their pets?
U.S. market flooded with foods unfit for humans, tainted with carcinogens, pesticides, bacteria, drugs

Last month, like most months, China topped the list of countries whose products were refused by the FDA – and that list includes many countries, including Mexico and Canada, who export far more food products to the U.S. than China.  Some 257 refusals of Chinese products were recorded in April. By comparison, only 140 were from Mexico and only 23 from Canada.  Refused by the FDA in April because they were “filthy”:

* salted bean curd cubes in brine with chili and sesame oil
* dried apple
* dried peach
* dried pear
* dried round bean curd
* dried mushroom
* olives
* frozen bay scallops
* frozen Pacific cod
* sardines
* frozen seafood mix
* fermented bean curd

Among the foods rejected because they were contaminated with pesticides:

* frozen eel
* ginseng
* frozen red raspberry crumble
* mushrooms

For more FDA information – click here.

Kayla Webley of NPR reported just a few days ago – List of Problem Chinese Imports Grows:

In recent months, the number of unsafe products imported to the United States from China — ranging from seafood and pet food to toys and toothpaste — has grown steadily. Chinese-made products have accounted for 60 percent of recalls this year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. For the most part, the businesses responsible for the faulty products and bad food have denied the problems, saying their products are safe.

Daniel Schearf of VOC reported yesterday on China’s own internal problems with food security – Inspectors Say Nearly 1 in 5 Chinese Products Substandard

Chinese government inspectors report that nearly one-fifth of the products they examined this year were substandard. The report follows months of increasing publicity over tainted foods and unsafe products made in China and sold both domestically and overseas. China’s General Administration of Quality, Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine says in the first half of this year more than 19 percent of inspected Chinese products made for domestic consumption failed national quality and safety standards. The rate of failure among small manufacturers was even worse, at 27 percent. Small manufacturers account for about 75 percent of all food processing operations.

My guess is that with increased globalization, and the billions of dollars at play, and with the denial of the Chinese that there even is a problem, I had better brush up on my Chinese.